Where do Butterflies go in the Winter

Butterflies, being cold-blooded insects, rely on external heat sources to keep their bodies warm and remain active. Most butterflies bask in the sunlight or vibrate their flight muscles to increase their body temperature. Therefore, when the surroundings get really cold in the winter, it becomes difficult for butterflies to get warm. While many species, such as Monarchs and Painted Ladies, migrate to warmer habitats, the non-migratory butterflies have evolved other ways of dealing with harsh, cold weather.

Do Butterflies Hibernate

Insects, unlike birds and mammals, do not really hibernate, but they can enter a state of dormancy in their egg, larva, pupa, or adult stage. Most butterfly species are capable of overwintering in their larval stage, followed by pupa, egg, and adult. A few species, including the Speckled Wood, can overwinter in its caterpillar or pupa stage. During the winter months, the butterflies that overwinter as inactive adults are Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock, and Brimstone. These insects remain dormant in tree holes, crevices of man-made structures, and other shelters.

Interesting Facts

  • Butterflies secrete a type of natural antifreeze in their body fluids to prevent the formation of ice crystals on the surface of their body, which can cause damage to tissues and cells.