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The Butteflies of Spring: Up Close and Personal

May 16th, 2020 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, have the early season species wondered about the lack of human admirers this year?

Spring has returned after a very unwelcome late blast of winter. COVID-19 restrictions are loosening. Alas, the conservation areas, now permitted to welcome us, are not yet ready to open their gates. Such bitter disappointment for the May holiday weekend! The early season species will have to wait another week before we arrive to waltz among them.

So let’s get up close and personal, in virtual fashion once again, with specimens from summers past.


Forget about Robins. Mourning Cloak’s are the definitive first sign of spring. Emerging in the first thaw in early April or even late March. Enjoying a remarkably long life span by butterfly standards. The generation born in early summer hibernates through the winter and emerges again in spring. Quite regal with its chocolate brown cloak with creamy border and blue spot band.


A charter member of the Comma butterfly family, named after the comma shaped white mark on the dead leaf pattern of the outer wing. The dot below the comma, forming a stylized question mark, gives this species its name. Early season specimens are adorned with this white frosting on the wing edges. Rumour has it some are migratory.


A cousin of the Mourning Cloak. Found almost everywhere from forest clearings, stream sides, fields, gardens and city parks. Pugnacious little devils – darting out at almost everything crossing their territory. So common I take them for granted and have to remind myself of their particular beauty. This specimen displayed its colours to full effect by perching on the ground.


Tough to distinguish from its sibling the Question Mark. Lacks the dot below the curved line that sets apart that species. Very skittish and camera shy. Dashes off and flies erratically when approached. But ever so photogenic perched diagonally on a white wildflower with a sprig of oat grass for perspective.

Beauty can be a contagion too. No social distancing here. Get up close and personal. It is allowed.

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~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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