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Port Washington Garden Club


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This month in the garden...

 

"The best way to make sure you're removing a weed and not a valuable plant? If it comes out of the ground easily it's a valuable plant."

Anonymous

 

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This Month in the Garden (March 2009)

Although Port Washington can expect cold weather well into April it's not unusual here to see a Mourning Cloak butterfly spreading it's wings on a sunny March day when the temperatures climb above freezing.

The Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) is one of the few butterflies that remains in the cold climates as an adult and may be found as far north as Manitoba, Canada. The insect doesn't need protection from winter cold but finds shelter from wind and predators under bark or it tree recesses. On sunny days the butterfly emerges from its hiding place and basks to raise its body temperatures. The warming process is speeded by the insect's dark wing color. It then flies off it search of food and water.

Mourning Cloak larvae feed on the leaves of willows, poplars, cottonwoods, and hackberries. The adults feed on fermenting fruit and can be seen on drips from sapsucker holes. The males are territorial and although they may flutter away when disturbed, the insects soon return to the same location.

The butterflies that overwinter breed in the spring and then die. Once their eggs hatch, the caterpillars stay together as they feed and may even march off en masse to another shrub or tree if they deplete the resources on the original.

Mourning Cloaks aren't the only insects active on sunny winter days. Honey bees also take advantage of warm weather to clean out their hives and take short flights to eliminate their body wastes.


This Month in the Garden Archive:

November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July
2010
June 2010
May
2010

April 2010
March 2010
February 2010

January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April
2009

March 2009

Port Washington Garden Club, PO Box 492, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074
Registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization