Weather like we’ve been experiencing this week isn’t ideal for most of us. Furry pets, transplanted shrubs, anyone who works outside or is required to wear a synthetic-fiber uniform deserve the most sympathy votes.
But this is perfect weather for butterflies, who thrive in the heat. When it’s a hundred degrees out it’s hard to remember, but just two years ago we had a cool, wet summer and it is estimated that this caused the butterfly population in our area to decline by 50%. Unlike moths which can fly in the cool night air, butterflies need the sun to warm them up before they can get moving, and they can’t fly in rain because it beats up their wings.
On a hot day, sometimes a lot of butterflies can be spotted surrounding a mucky puddle. Although most of their diet is nectar from flowers, by drinking muddy water they can get earth minerals they can’t otherwise access. Interestingly, lepidopterists have observed male butterflies puddling much more often than females- the salts may be necessary for successful mating.
Doesn’t it make you feel a tiny bit cooler to know that the furnace blast you feel when you walk outside is at least benefitting something really pretty in nature?