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 Farmington Valley 2016 Butterfly Count - Report





Those wishing to participate in the 2017 Farmington Valley Butterfly Count may contact Roaring Brook Nature Center at 860.693.0263

This is the 20th year of the Farmington Valley Butterfly Count, and it might have been the warmest one yet. The temperature reached 96F in the afternoon. I assumed the current heat wave and precipitation of almost 8 inches below the norm for the year would result in one of the lowest counts for both species and individuals we’ve ever had.

Happily, I was, as is often the case in such matters, very wrong. At day’s end, we had totaled 39 species, 40 if we count the White Admiral, a form of the red spotted purple, found by Greg Hanisek and Luke Klingenmith in Burlington. (Our species record is 42). This was the first record for this more northerly butterfly on our Count. Another exciting find was a first record for Giant Swallowtail in Farmington by Lenny Brown.

What’s going on here? Well, for starters, our Count was held almost two weeks later than in the previous few years, and this likely accounts for the Giant Swallowtail. It also accounts for record numbers of the three expected swallowtail species as second broods are now on the wing.

Of course, there is a downside to a later count date as Baltimore, Banded Hairstreak and American Copper, usually found on our Count, went unreported on the day. Several other species including Great Spangled Fritillary and several of the skippers were reported in much lower than usual numbers.

Another setback occurred as the meadow in front of the pump house at the Farmington’s Hill-stead Museum had been mowed, thereby eliminating habitat for wetland skippers like Black Dash and Mulberry Wing. On a final note, after missing monarch last year for the first time ever, we rebounded with 6 monarchs this year. A far cry from the 40+ we would find a few years ago, this was, nonetheless, a step in the right direction.

Participation was similar to last year with 14 observers in eight parties covering about 20 miles over 36.5 hours. Overall, 1175 butterflies were tallied, compared with 1114 the previous year. The 396 reported Pearl Crescents and 236 Cabbage Whites had much to do with this higher number.

Jay Kaplan, Director RBNC

Here are the individual totals:

  • Black Swallowtail - 27
  • Giant Swallowtail - 1
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail-42
  • Spicebush Swallowtai - 44
  • Cabbage White - 236
  • Clouded Sulphur - 48
  • Orange Sulphur - 28
  • Gray Hairstreak - 1
  • Eastern Tailed-Blue - 8
  • "Summer" Spring Azure - 10
  • Great Spangled Fritillary - 54
  • Silver-bordered Fritillary - 4
  • Meadow Fritillary - 3
  • Pearl Crescent - 396
  • Question Mark - 1
  • Eastern Comma - 2
  • Mourning Cloak - 1
  • American Lady - 2
    Painted Lady - 1
  • Red Admiral - 16
  • Red-spotted Purple - 1
  • White Admiral - 1
  • Northern Pearly-eye - 1
  • Appalachian Brown - 18
  • Little Wood-Satyr - 6
  • Common Ringlet -28
  • Common Wood-Nymph-29
  • Monarch - 6
  • Silver-spotted Skipper - 29
  • Wild Indigo Duskywing - 23
  • Common Sootywing - 2
  • Peck's Skipper - 9
  • Tawny-edged Skipper - 2
  • Northern Broken-Dash - 42
  • Little Glassywing - 1
  • Delaware Skipper - 5
  • Mulberry Wing - 8
  • Broad-winged Skipper - 7
  • Dun Skipper - 16