Watch for Butterflies!

Butterfly populations peak in July and August across Boulder County. On just about any hike you'll notice many different species, since the Front Range has some of the highest butterfly diversity in the United States! Butterflies are most active on warm days in ​the late morning and afternoon.

Photo - Western TIger Swallowtail

They often congregate in flower-filled meadows and in low-lying muddy areas where small streams cross trails. Another great place to see butterflies is at the top of mountains, where they congregate to find mates. On a hot afternoon, the summit of Green Mountain swarms with butterflies! Butterflies feed on nectar which they gather from flowers with their long, hollow tongue or proboscis. They keep the tongue rolled up in a tight coil while flying. When a butterfly alights on a flower to feed, special muscles at the base of the proboscis force high pressure fluid into the tongue, causing it to elongate. The butterfly can then probe the depths of a flower in search of nectar, much like a kid slurping the dregs of a soda bottle with a long straw.

Photo - Monarch butterfly
​Look for the famous orange and black monarch butterflies, which will be migrating through the Front Range. Monarchs feed on plants in the milkweed family - the larvae eat the leaves, and the adults seek nectar from the flowers (see photo). Although they don't frequently breed in the Boulder area, stay on the lookout for the distinctive yellow, black and white striped caterpillars, or the jewel-like green chrysalises dangling from the leaf of a milkweed. If you want to help monarch populations, grow milkweed plants in your own garden! 

Posted by dsutherland dsutherland, August 13, 2019 21:08

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