Summer Annual Butterfly Count
Saint Paul Audubon’s annual NABA Butterfly Count again in 2012 will take place at the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS). We add to the database on the distribution of butterflies in the Twin Cities area. We take note of both the number of species and the quantity of each species seen. The census findings are tallied by the North American Butterfly Association
What is a Butterfly Count?
Well, it’s Citizen Science!! Yep, every year we add to the database on the distribution of butterflies in the Twin Cities area. We take note of both the number of species and the quantity of each species seen. The census findings are tallied by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) and are used for further research into such things as habitat loss and change. We have observed 59 species of butterflies over time. For studying ahead, here are a few species that we see quite often: Orange Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Eastern Tailed Blue, Great Spangled Frittilary, Pearl Crescent, American Lady, Summer Azure, Baltimore Checkerspot, Red Admiral, Eyed Brown, Common Wood Nymph, Delaware Skipper, and Monarch.
How Do I Participate?
Saint Paul Audubon’s annual NABA Butterfly Count will take place at the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS). There is a $5 fee to participate. Since this is an Army facility, we must give the National Guard the names of all participants before the count. Participants must register with Dorothy Waltz by Wednesday, June 22nd. Because of new EPA regulations, no one under age 18 may participate. The maximum number of participants is 25, so register early!
The count will take place from 9:45 AM to 2:00 PM. Registered participants should meet in the parking lot of the new Readiness Center – MN Army National Guard building on Hamline Avenue, 1/3 mile north of Hwy 96 in Arden Hills by 9:45 AM. We will carpool into the butterfly count sites to minimize the number of cars. For more information and to register please contact Dorothy Waltz at 651-917-0930 or email. A map and information packet will be mailed before the count.
At 9:45 AM on the day of the count, Dean Hansen, probably Minnesota’s best butterfly expert, will give us a primer on what we are likely to see. He’ll also demonstrate how to catch and handle our quarry. Even if you don’t know the difference between a Viceroy and a Monarch, you are welcome to come. This is as good a “class” as you’ll ever attend! (All butterflies are released.) As we participate in the count, we explore in detail three areas of AHATS: a native prairie, a prairie restored by our own Craig Andresen, and a bog. After we finish counting at the prairies, we’ll stop in a shady spot for lunch, then proceed to the bog and the woodland. This site overlooks Marsden Lake, so we’ll look for swan and loon families. At the end of the count, we tally what we’ve seen and a complete list of species will mailed to all participants after the count.
What to Bring & Wear
Everyone must stay with the group for the entire time, so come prepared! Be sure to bring plenty of cool drinks and a bag lunch. A wide-brimmed hat, lightweight long pants and long-sleeve shirt, sunscreen, high socks, old sneakers or rubber boots for bog-tromping, and insect repellent are recommended. You may want to bring a butterfly field guide and a butterfly net. Binoculars are also a good idea since there are some great birds as well. We usually see Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon, flycatchers, sparrows, warblers, Osprey, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks, and sometimes Sandhill Cranes.
To get the most out of the day you should bring a butterfly net, available at Trans-Mississippi Biological Supply, 590 Cardigan Rd, Shoreview, 651-484-4488.
Internet Sites for Butterfliers
The best site for Minnesota butterflies is actually maintained by Mike Reese, an outstanding expert in Wisconsin: http://www.wisconsinbutterflies.org/
Books for Butterfliers
Kenn Kaufman’s ‘Focus’ Guide: Butterflies of North America Highly-acclaimed guide, enhanced photos illustrate field marks. Maps and text are together on a 2-page spread.
Butterflies Through Binoculars-East N.A. expert Jeff Glassberg. Great species accounts, informative intro. Maps,
basic ID text and photos are together. Includes abundance graphs. Gardening tips. Western Guide also available.
Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies Text, maps and photos organized by species, very informative. Comparison paintings very good.
Butterflies of the North Woods Very nice regional guide, great photos and information. Limited in scope for travel.
“Insect Study” Merit Badge booklet Available at area Scout Shops. Covers biology, photography, and projects for Scouts.
Stokes Butterfly Book A guide to butterfly gardening, identification, and behavior. Descriptions of larval and
nectaring plants. Section on caterpillars. Informative.
Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden The Xerces Society and Smithsonian Institution. Gardening, life cycles, essays, garden design tips, photography info, even a chapter on moths and the garden at night! Great Photos. Available at www.sierra.org/books
Attracting Birds and Butterflies Barbara Ellis. Discussion of flora needed to attract both butterflies and birds, including hummingbirds.
The Family Butterfly Book Rick Mikula. Wow, this book is great for kids and adults. Great info, including anatomy, migration, gardening, raising butterflies, first aid, making a net, and many other family-oriented activities. ID section includes range, illustrations of larval plants showing egg, caterpillar, and chrysallis.
Peterson First Guides: Caterpillars The best book currently found on caterpillars. Shows 120 species, including larval plants, eggs, cocoons, and chrysalles.
Golden Guide: Butterflies and Moths Small, fits into backpack. Illustrates larval and adult food plants, caterpillars, and range maps for many North American species.
The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds Stephen Kress. This is not a book about butterflies, but the descriptions of the plants are very good. The author gives good landscaping ideas for back yards, farms, road sides, and wild areas. And one should never overlook the “back of the book,” the appendices, which are rich in plant sources, more reading material, and Internet sites.
Handbook for Butterfly Watchers Robert M. Pyle. This book is not an ID guide. After you get back from the census, you’ll want to know more. This book takes you through naming convention, how to keep good observation records, listing, mapping, behavior, gardening, raising, conservation, photography, and where to find them in North America.
North American Butterfly Association (NABA) 4 Delaware Rd., Morristown, NJ 07960, 973-285-0907. With membership, you get “American Butterflies,” which discusses all aspects from identification to preservation of habitat; and “Butterfly Gardener,” a great source of info on what to plant, what to watch for if you want to see or attract certain species. http://www.naba.org has great info, from identification to a photo gallery, research, and info on the 4TH of July census. There is also a page where you can compile and maintain your own butterfly life list.
Four Wings and a Prayer Sue Halpern. This non-fiction work delves into the mysteries of monarch migration. How do they do it? No one butterfly makes a round trip… A fascinating read.
An Obsession with Butterflies Sharman Apt Russell. Science, poetry, mysticism in history, experiments, collectors and museum collections , the business of butterfly farming.