Monday, July 15, 2013

Butterfly Count at Springbrook

 This past Saturday was the 20th annual butterfly count at Springbrook Nature Center.  It was a humid, warm, overcast day.  Not the kind of day butterflies enjoy, and the numbers seen reflected that.

29 people participated, so lots of eyes were looking with nets at the ready.

This American Lady butterfly was one of 17 species we spotted.  Over 20 years the number of species has ranged from 10 to 24 so this year was right in the middle for the number of kinds of butterflies seen.
 This Eyed Brown was another species we saw several of.  In addition to species we also count how many of each kind we see.  This year was the lowest ever, and by quite a bit.  We saw only 40 butterflies!  The lowest years prior to this were 69 in 2008 and 72 in 1997.  The highest year was 2001 with 313 butterflies counted.

 So the drought last year, the late, wet, cold spring this year, and other factors have combined to make it a rough year for butterfly survival.
 This Common Wood Nymph was another species we saw several of.  Notice none of the butterflies have their wings open.  Butterflies like to warm up with the sun on their wings.  But there was essentially no open sun on Saturday until late in the afternoon as we were finishing up. So I had to use flash for photography, as it was so dark.

So the butterflies kept their wings closed, making it harder to see them, since the bright colors are mostly on the inside surface of the wings.
We also saw 2 Common Buckeye butterflies in the south prairie, where we have seen them before. 

The books say these butterflies do not overwinter here, but migrate up here from the south in the summer.  But we have seen them every year for the last three years in the south prairie, making me wonder if they are not somehow here all year now.

I'll try to go out on a sunny day and see if I can photograph some butterflies with their wings open.  Then I can post some bright colors instead of these subdued butterflies here.

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