Enjoying the late summer butterflies? Soon butterflies like the Black Swallowtail, pictured in the photo by Laurie Sheppard, will not be around. According to How to Spot Butterflies, by Patricia Taylor Sutton and Clay Sutton (Houghton and Mifflin Company, 1999), these butterflies will have mated, produced eggs and died by mid September. Their caterpillars will pupate and winter over until next spring. Over much of the country, Black Swallowtails, as well as other swallowtails, are “double brooders” - in spring the new butterflies will mate, lay eggs and die, with their egg-caterpillar-pupa cycle resulting in a second wave of butterflies from mid to late summer. This second “wave” is what we are seeing now.
Other butterflies go through only one brood cycle - some are long lived, like the Mourning Cloak, but others live only a short time as butterflies, mating and laying eggs. After the larva feed, they go into the pupa stage and remain there until the next spring, in some cases, for almost a year. Some butterfly species have life cycles which last for several years.
Some additional resources about butterflies include http://www.dallasbutterflies.com, the website for the Dallas Lepidopterists’ Society, maintained by Dale Clark, who was the speaker for Second Saturday at Hagerman NWR in June, and two books recommended by Clark: Field Guide to Butterflies of North America by Jim Brock and Kenn Kaufman, and Butterflies of Oklahoma, Kansas and North Texas by John M. Dole, Walter B. Gerard and John M. Nelson.
Butterflies abound at Hagerman NWR, and a free two page Butterfly Guide is available at Refuge Headquarters. For more information about programs and activities at Hagerman NWR, see http://www.friendsofhagerman.com, and for the official Refuge website, see http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/hagerman/index.html.