Butterfly 3 FullThe North American Butterfly Association (NABA) count took place at MacGregor Point Provincial Park on July 4th where 22 observers, including staff members and volunteers, went out to identify and count the butterflies in the park and surrounding areas.

NABA is a membership based not-for-profit organization with an aim to save butterfly species throughout North America. NABA oversees all of the counts throughout Canada and the United States and MacGregor Point Provincial Park has been providing them with results for several years, helping to track butterfly numbers in North America.

Matthew Cunliffe, Natural Heritage Education Leader at MacGregor Point Provinicial Park explained that they divided into seven parties to cover a 15 kilometre radius. In addition to the more obvious areas, this year staff and volunteers spent some time in areas in which they hadn't recorded many in the past. “We go by habitat, flowering plants are popular for feeding purposes, we try to pick locations that would have lots of early summer flowering plants that we could get to, open areas tend to be really easy for us to spot them and then we ducked into some trails that are a little wooded to find some more forest butterflies ... it's quite the challenge.

We've got a wide variety [of butterflies]. Some of the key ones we look for are the Admirals, so the White and the Red Admirals; and the Painted Ladies, Mourning Cloaks, the Tiger Swallowtail. We've got the Eastern and the Canadian as well. Monarchs are obviously on our mind,” Cunliffe said.

Cunliffe explained that the group saw some really interesting ones this year that were hard to identify and that he himself had seen some new species. “We caught an Acadian Hairstreak ... which has got brilliant orange and a little speck of blue right near the hind wing where it has this little tail, where Hairstreaks get their name.” Cunliffe added that this year's count was different with regard to the types of species. More smaller butterflies were recorded but they found fewer of the larger varieties. “We saw very few Monarchs, which was unfortunate; fewer Swallowtails and Admirals,” he said.

Most of the butterflies are viewed through binoculars but some they catch to take a closer look.

Andalyne TofflemireAndalyne Tofflemire, a Naturalist at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory was one of the volunteers. She explained that some of the smaller and more difficult butterflies to identify were called Skippers. “They're all small, orange and brown and you're just going by the patterns on the wings, so there's a few we wanted a second opinion on, that's why we caught them and brought them back.”

The results of this year's species observed included 3844 individual butterflies and 39 species: Black Swallowtail 3, Can. Tiger Sw. 8, Cabbage White 790, Clouded Sulphur 46, Bronze Copper 9, Dorcas Co. 1, Acadian Hairstreak 1, 'Summer' Spring Azure 13, Gr. Spangled Fritillary 21, Silver-bordered Fr. 1, Meadow Fr. 2, Pearl Crescent 7, N. Cr. 163, Baltimore Checkerspot 2, Question Mark 4, E. Comma 26, Gray Comma 1, Mourning Cloak 6, Milbert's Tortoiseshell 5, Am. Lady 2, Red Admiral 5, White Admiral 29, Viceroy 3, N. Pearly-eye 2, Eyed Brown 24, Appalachian Brown 7, Little Wood-Satyr 31, Com. Ringlet 15, Com. Wood-Nymph 5, Monarch 12, Least Skipper 18, European Sk. 2522, Leonard's Sk. 2, Peck's Sk. 3, Tawny-edged Sk. 19, Crossline Sk. 1, Long Dash 25, Hobomok Sk. 9. Unlisted: Celastrina serotina (Cherry Gall Azure) 1.

Immatures: Red Admiral 3 caterpillars; White Admiral 1 egg; Monarch 1 egg.

Next year's NABA count at MacGregor Point Provincial Park will be take place on Saturday, July 2nd. For more information visit http://www.naba.org or http://www.friendsofmacgregor.org.

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