By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator
Way back on July 30(more than three weeks ago now!), the Delaware Nature Society took part in the North American Butterfly Count. A crew of four citizen scientists helped to survey the butterfly populations at both Ashland Nature Center and Coverdale Farm Preserve. The results, in butterfly terms, were impressive!
On the Ashland grounds, we also found beauties like the Appalachain Eyed Brown, Red-spotted Purple, Red-banded Hairstreak, and Great Spangled Fritillary. The nectar sources (flowers) were widely scattered and so were the butterflies. Patience, and a quick butterfly net and snap of a digital camera, allowed us to net a good variety of butterflies.
We discovered a great technique for studying and photographing small butterflies. After I caught butterflies in a net, Jill placed the fragile creatures inside a plastic jar and inserted her digital camera into the opening of the jar. The photos showed the butterflies’ detail very well, and thus was born the saying “It’s like shooting butterflies in a jar.” Easy, simple, and effective.
In the afternoon, we spent three hours touring the gardens, meadows, and forest at Coverdale Farm Preserve. Joined by Sheila Vincent (Delaware Nature Society’s Butterfly guru), we found a bonanza of butterflies congregating on the flowers in the CSA garden. Zinnias, sunflowers, and Bachelor’s Button’s attracted 13 species of butterflies with standouts like Gray Hairstreak, American Lady, Variegated Fritillary, and Buckeye grabbing our attention.
The Butterfly Count provided many opportunities for close observation of these beautiful insects. For the day we tallied 31 species of butterfly, and obtained photos of 20 of those species. A total of 249 butterflies were observed, with Monarchs the most numerous at 42 total. And in a new category of listing, we had 7 species of butterflies land or perch on our fingertips. Try that on a bird survey!
To see our survey results, click on our Butterfly Count Field Card.