Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A butterfly in Minnesota in March? Are you crazy? March 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:44 AM

TULIPS ARE POPPING through the cold, black soil. Farmers are working the ground, at least in Goodhue County. And, in Faribault, a butterfly was spotted yesterday.

If you’re questioning the truthfulness of that last statement, I wouldn’t blame you. Butterflies in Minnesota in March, yeah right?

But, I am telling the honest-to-goodness truth.

While preparing lunch yesterday, I glanced out my kitchen window and saw a butterfly perched upon the sun-drenched, leaf-matted hillside. Only weeks ago several feet of snow covered this hill.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the monarch-sized, dark brown butterfly resting there. And just to prove to myself, and you, that I wasn’t imagining things, I dashed for my camera.

But I was too late. From the time it took me to grab my camera and race outside, the butterfly had flitted away.

So…, you’ll simply need to take my word for it that I really did see a butterfly in Faribault, Minnesota, on March 23.

That’s the earliest date ever that I’ve spotted a butterfly in Minnesota.

A monarch photographed in my garden last summer.

IF ANY OF YOU readers have seen a butterfly already (in Minnesota), I’d love to hear from you. Maybe this sighting isn’t as unusual as I think.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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6 Responses to “A butterfly in Minnesota in March? Are you crazy?”

  1. Terry Says:

    I was walking No. Mississippi Regional Park (Mpls.) yesterday to see if the Herons were back (they were). Along the way we saw several dark brown/yellow around the wings butterflies – crazy!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Terry, this sounds like the exact same butterfly I saw yesterday in Faribault. Crazy, yeah. But after this long, long winter, I welcome this sure sign that maybe summer will eventually come to Minnesota. Thanks for reading Minnesota Prairie Roots and for sharing your March butterfly sightings with the rest of us.

  2. Renee Bergeron Says:

    The butterflies you have been seeing are Mourning Cloaks. They hibernate through our Minnesota winters and are the first to show up in the spring. They are dark brown/purple butterflies with yellow along the outer edge of the wings. Lovely!

    I saw three of them while walking my dog on Wednesday, March 31st.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you for the information, Renee. I had no idea that butterflies over-wintered in this cold climate.

      I appreciate your reading Minnesota Prairie Roots and sharing your knowledge about Mourning Cloaks with all of us.

  3. Kirk Bloomquist Says:

    It’s a couple weeks after your first post but I was out in my garden cleaning up this morning and saw a butterfly. Couldn’t figure out what kind of butterfly would be around in the first week of April, but I got my answer… a Morning Cloak!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, Kirk, thanks to reader Renee, we now know that these early Minnesota butterflies are Mourning Cloaks.

      I’m curious about your gardening. It seems early for that too. What are you planting? Lettuce? Radishes? I’d love to hear what you and others are planting this early in the spring.


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