Butterfly Time is Here!

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

A Regal Fritillary sips nectar from a Butterflyweed at Fort Indiantown Gap. Image by Derek Stoner, July 1, 2011.

On July 1, the Delaware Nature Society led another trip up to Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, to take part in the wildly popular tour of this military base’s unique population of Regal Fritillaries.  Each year in July, these beautiful butterflies are on the wing as they seek mates amidst the wildflowers on this intensively-managed property.  During our trip, we saw at least two dozen of these rare butterflies that are known for looking like a “Monarch butterfly dipped in chocolate.”

A pair of Black Swallowtails mating at Fort Indiantown Gap. Image by Derek Stoner, July 1, 2011.

The middle of summer brings about peak conditions for butterflies: plenty of nectar sources for feeding adults and plenty of food sources (plant leaves) for feeding larva.  Adult butterflies have a very short lifespan (two to four weeks on average) and the summer season is full of butterfly mating activity as these insects seek to continue the next generation of their kind.

On Saturday, July 30, the Delaware Nature Society will be taking part in the annual North America Butterfly Count .  This count takes place in the month of July on a date selected by a regional compiler of this citizen science effort.  The North Delaware count on July 30 will include two Delaware Nature Society properties: Ashland and Coverdale Farm Preserve.  We often tally 25-30 species of butterflies during the day, and enjoy other great sights besides the beautiful butterflies.

For the count at Ashland we will meet at 9:30am in the parking lot. To join us in the afternoon count at Coverdale, we will meet at the Ashland parking lot at 1:00pm.  Please contact me if you plan to participate.  Thanks! 

– Derek Stoner, derek@delawarenaturesociety.org

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