It’s a real treat, as soon as the days start to get warmer, to see a butterfly on the wing or spot a ladybug leaving its hiding place. There’s no mistaking the signs: when the six-footed animals wake up, you know that spring is here for real.
The first insects to show the tips of their antennas in the spring are primarily the ones that spent the winter in the adult state. Ready to breed, they’re active right away, whereas the ones that hibernated in the form of larva or chrysalis are just starting to grow again and will emerge in the course of the summer.
In May it’s possible to observe two of our most beautiful species of butterfly – the Mourning Cloak and the Eastern Comma – flying near the borders of woods, in forests and in urban parks. They’re both leaving the shelters that protected them all winter: an opening in a fence, a cavity in a tree, a crack in a rock. The span of a Mourning Cloak’s wings can reach eight centimeters, while that of the Eastern Comma is rarely greater than six. The orangey black-spotted wings of the Eastern Comma as well as the purple-brown ones of the Mourning Cloak, spotted with blue and rimmed with yellow, never fail to attract the attention and interest of the more curious hikers and strollers.
It’s also in May that the Lethocerus americanus, the giant water bug, leaves the bottoms of lakes and pools to fly off in search of a partner. On its travels the insect is often attracted by the lighting in our homes and the intense glow from streetlamps. Disoriented, it exhausts itself flying around those light sources and falls to the ground – after which it can be found on lawns, on the street, and very often, to the surprise of homeowners, paddling vigorously in swimming pools.
And finally it’s during the first warm days of spring that ants come back to the surface of the earth and occasionally visit our homes. If they come into the house at this time of year it’s generally because they’re in search of food, the world outside not yet being hospitable enough to meet their needs. The return of the sun, buds and the first flowers will quickly draw them outside, where they’ll spend the rest of the summer.