Friday, November 20, 2015

Brukner Nature Center, Butterfly Transit Wrap Up for 2015

Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)

What is most exciting about the duskywings is that we saw the first ones officially seen in Miami County.  Enough people had seen the caterpillars to know  these butterflies were probably in the county, but we were the ones who found them.

Learning what butterflies exist in our county is one of the important aspects of doing Butterfly Transits.  Butterflies have specific needs.  By tracking the butterflies we can see if their preferred habitats are being disturbed in our county.

The five most seen species on our transit this year were the Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae)...

The Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta)...

The  Azures (Celastrina) ...

The Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)...

And the Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)...

We saw 32 species this year which is an increase of 4 over 2014 and an increase of of 3 over 2013.  It may be that we are getting better at finding the butterflies.  We hope so.  There are some butterflies that we saw in earlier years that we didn't see this year.

A graph of the total species observed.  Click to enlarge.

We can track how the species fluctuate from year to year in our county.  The scientists, using our data, can correlate our numbers with weather and factors other than habitat that are likely causing the fluctuations throughout the state and the country.

This is our third year of walking the butterfly transit.  We were learning how to do it properly in 2013 so Ruth didn't send in our results.  She sent in our counts for 2014 and will send in the records for 2015.

We saw 541 butterflies in 2013, 338 in 2014, and 571 in 2015.  Again, click to enlarge.

Both graphs are part of an Excel report put together by Molly Simonis, who is temporarily part of the Brukner staff.

At the Butterfly Conference in Toledo this spring, we learned that the numbers throughout the state were low in 2014 compared to previous years.  It will be interesting to see if the numbers are larger this year.  The raw data is due in by December, 2015 so it will be a while yet before we know.

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