Oh the butterflies!
The springtime butterfly migration believed to be the biggest in history hit a stone cold wall on Monday, forcing the insects to take shelter or perish.
The butterflies — mostly red admirals — arrived in Eastern Canada last week, coasting on strong winds prompted by warm March weather in the southern United States.
But Monday’s blast of winter in Eastern Canada has driven the butterflies into hiding.
The migrants’ endurance won’t be known until the weather warms to about 10 C, when the survivors will emerge from their shelters. This many butterflies have never been up north so early, so this is a “big experiment,” said University of Ottawa biologist Jeremy Kerr.
“This is the kind of weather that kills butterflies,” Kerr said. “Every minute they’re not out there nectaring or doing the things butterflies need to do … is costing them.”
About 90 per cent of the butterflies in last week’s migration are red admirals. The other 10 per cent are fellow brush-footed butterflies such as painted ladies.
The insects typically take refuge in places such as in cedar hedges or under leaf litter.