CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD BELIEVE BUTTERFLIES ARE SYMBOLS FOR RENEWAL, LUCK, AND PROSPERITY.
In the Hudson Valley, they are the epitome of springtime, awakening from their winter slumber to a beautiful flower-filled land. You can see butterflies all over the valley, but many can be found on the more than 8,000 acres of forests and fields at Mohonk Preserve.
Elizabeth Long, director of conservation at Mohonk Preserve, recommends hikes in the Spring Farm area, notably the Bonticou Crag hike, a moderate three-mile trip that climaxes with a challenging rock scramble, though that part is optional. Also consider passing through the Testimonial Gateway, the former entrance to Mohonk Mountain House on 110 acres between Route 299 and Gatehouse Road in New Paltz. WHICHEVER JOURNEY YOU CHOOSE, KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR THESE BUTTERFLY VARIETIES:
Monarchs are perhaps the most familiar butterfly species in North America, with a bold orange and black wing pattern. These butterflies migrate south during late summer and fall to avoid frost, many fleeing to Mexico until spring. The mild winter this year may have posed a struggle for the Monarchs that stayed behind, though, so finding one may be a challenge.
Another early spring butterfly, these can be colored brown or orange with black spots. Their wings take on a jagged shape, making them blend in well with dry leaves.
Mourning cloaks can be tough to spot as they typically stay to themselves rather than in packs. Look for a mostly mahogany-colored butterfly with a gold band around the corners of its wings. It will appear as temperatures rise toward the end of winter and beginning of spring.
A gardener may find the small cabbage white flying around, especially if that gardener is growing cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale. These butterflies have two little black spots on the edges of their wings but are otherwise completely white.
When out identifying butterflies this spring, you can be part of an international effort to catalogue and research these small winged friends.
Mohonk Preserve’s Citizen Science initiative gives adults and children (with adult accompaniment) the opportunity to collect data on natural history events occurring daily in the area.
Citizen Science volunteers are trained and then asked to walk specific routes in Mohonk Preserve, observing and recording activity along the way.
To participate, call 845-255-0919 x1269 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A cousin to the Eastern tiger, the spicebush is more black but has bright orange and blue markings on its underwings
Be on the lookout for these small but brilliant blue butterflies. You might see them in large groups and near mud puddles, so keep your eyes toward the ground.
EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAIL
This is maybe the most commonly recognized butterfly around, identified by the distinctive tiger stripes on its wings.
It is easy to confuse the painted lady with the monarch because it is also black and orange with eyespots on its wings, which help to scare off prey. You can find the painted lady just about anywhere in the country.