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Poor Will's Almanack: March 19 - 25, 2024

via Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the days of of early spring with the sun in Aries under the termite migration moon.

One of the last butterflies to have survived in the lower Midwest where I live is the white cabbage butterfly, and that species is the surest sign of the beginning of the end of early spring. Once you notice the familiar white cabbage butterfly, then you know the more elusive mourning cloak butterflies and the question mark butterflies and the tortoise shell butterflies and the tiny blues are flying too.

When you see cabbage butterflies, then you know that gold finches are turning gold, and soon you may soon see ants working on the sidewalk.

If you see a cabbage butterfly, then you know that catfish have begun spring feeding and breeding. If you see a cabbage butterfly, then green bottle flies have hatched and termites are swarming, looking for new sweet wood to eat.

When cabbage butterflies are out, then soft sprouts of touch-me-nots have emerged in the wetlands and the branches of weeping willow trees are turning pale yellow-green as their buds expand. In the city, cornus mas shrubs produce golden blossoms, promising forsythia in the first week of middle spring.

If you see a white cabbage butterfly on your way to work, you can know that middle spring's hepatica and twinleaf are pushing out in the sanctuary of the woodlands.  Toad trillium and Dutchman's britches are ready to open there, the entire spectrum of wildflowers surging to encounter April.       

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with more notes on nature and the seasons. In the meantime, watch for the rare cabbage white butterfly and try to attract and protect other varieties.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.