As you know from my last blog, Massachusetts has a state bird, state tree and even a state soil. What Massachusetts does NOT have is a state butterfly. Enter the Massachusetts Butterfly Club and Girl Scout Troop #85103 of Norfolk. They have nominated three species that are now vying for the title of Massachusetts State Butterfly.
The three candidates are the Black Swallowtail, the Great Spangled Fritillary and the Mourning Cloak. Their bios can be found here. These species are all excellent choices and I am having a hard time deciding which one I will vote for.
The Black Swallowtail is a large and beautiful butterfly with tails on the ends of its hindwings. The larvae are just as well-known as the adult, as you can often find them on your parsley (so plant enough for everyone). Other host plants (aka caterpillar food) for this species include Queen Anne’s Lace and garden plants like carrots, dill, and fennel.
The Great Spangled Fritillary is a very common butterfly here at Tupper Hill. Violets are their host plant. The adult is a tawny orange whose color accents nicely in the garden. There are about a half-dozen other “frits” that can be seen in Massachusetts, so you always want to look at your Great Spangled to make sure it’s not something else.
Last, but not least, is the Mourning Cloak. This species overwinters as an adult so you can encounter them on warm January days, a true harbinger of spring and a pleasant surprise during the thaw. Their host plants are trees like williow, poplar and elm.
Which will become the Massachusetts State Butterfly? You can vote between now and October 17th by visiting this link.