It’s crucial that butterflies have winter survival strategies. Unlike mammals and birds, butterflies are cold-blooded, meaning they have no way of regulating internal body temperatures. Without some way of warding off cold, they will die.
Generally, butterflies are most active when temperatures are 80-100 degrees. Below 60 degrees or so, the insects usually stop flying because, at that point, their flight muscles won’t contract and they can’t flap their wings.
So, on freezing winter days, such as during Georgia’s severe cold snap in late December, even the hardiest of butterflies will not venture out.
IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be last quarter Saturday night. Mercury is low in the east before dawn. Venus is very low in the west just after sunset. Mars is high in the east at dark. Jupiter is in the south at sunset and sets about four hours later. Saturn is very low in the southwest at dark.
Charles Seabrook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.