June 17 was a beautiful day to be outdoors for the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve’s Pollinator Festival — balmy at 75 degrees, but very breezy. Over a hundred hikers, dog-walkers and families enjoyed displays and activities from a number of local organizations focusing on preservation and conservation of some of our most valuable insects. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s table had information on the upcoming annual butterfly count, spotted lantern flies and native plants to attract pollinators.
About 74 visitors, not including small children, came to our display. Over a dozen people signed up to find out more about the butterfly count and many signed up to find out more about our organization. Anne Ellis and Amy Ritter led three butterfly hikes. During the first scheduled hike, it was too chilly and windy to see butterflies, but Anne and Amy used the second hike to try to find them. High winds continued throughout the day (butterflies don’t like wind), so we took participants of the third hike into more protected areas in search of our favorite pollinators. We found a Great Spangled Fritillary, Eastern Tailed Blues, Azures, Orange Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites and a Hackberry Emperor that insisted on visiting each one of us, but not posing long enough for a photo. Bill Cour and Mark Long spotted a couple of Monarchs visiting the tables at the festival.
The crowd may not have been large, but it was enthusiastic and happy, bringing home painted faces, bee houses, stickers and kids’ crafts.