Terns, Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Petrels, Gulls as well as other birds we see at various times nest on the refuge islands during the late spring through early fall; but what about other species that inhabit the islands? We see a large array of sea birds, raptors, song birds, fish that the birds catch, seals loafing on the intertidal area and various invertebrates such as butterflies, bees and dragonflies. This particular post is written in hopes of relaying some information on the butterflies of Petit Manan Island.
Thus far, I have come across six different butterfly species that include: the American Copper, Question Mark, Red Admiral, American Lady, Painted Lady and the Black Swallowtail.
The American Copper habituates disturbed open landscapes such as fields and has been known to eat from field sorrel, which is found in abundance on Petit Manan.
The Question Mark habituates open habitats as well as woodlands and has been known to eat from Nettles and Hackberry. Petit Manan has one single shrub on the entire island, so it is unlikely that it was seen for our lush woodlands; however, we do in fact have stinging nettles growing in hidden locations, waiting to catch our pant legs when possible.
The Red Admiral habituates open landscapes with flowers which can also include moist meadows and fields and has been known to eat from Nettles as well.
The American Lady habituates open landscapes such as fields and meadows and has been known to eat from pearly Everlastings as well as other Compositae.
The Painted Lady habituates open habitats and has been known to eat from Thistles.
The Black Swallowtail habituates open landscapes such as meadows, fields, tidal marshes and lawns; while have been known to eat from parsleys, fennel and carrots.
Whether the butterflies are just flying by or have a reason to stay is something I wonder when I see them flying around. The landscape of Petit Manan Island is roughly open grasslands with patches of flowers found throughout. In this matter, it is not a surprise to have seen these butterflies dawdling about.
Butterflies have very delicate structures and will likely not come out of hiding unless it is a beautiful day. I consider them a little gift from nature that helps brighten your day after a period of dreariness. These invertebrates have four distinct stages they go through in their life: egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult. A question I myself had at one point was where do they go during the cold winter months? The female butterflies lay their eggs from the beginning through the end of the summertime, during this time the eggs hatch into caterpillars where they steadily grow in size until they become a pupa. Some of the eggs don’t hatch during that season while some of the pupas go into a dormant state which both stages will remain in until spring time rolls around where caterpillars and beautiful butterflies will emerge to welcome the vibrant winter free landscapes. Something that has always proved true is, seeing a butterfly flying around is a sure sign of a perfect day.