by Anne Ellis, Butterfly Count Coordinator
Every year we all get a little worried when we don’t see plenty of butterflies in July. And every year our annual count, held the first Saturday of August, shows strong numbers, allowing us to breath a sigh of relief. But not this year. Over 100 volunteer spotters and experts in 10 field parties braved the hot summer weather of early August looking at every blossom, under every leaf, into every nook and cranny that might hide a butterfly, but still came up shorter than hoped.
Clearly, our numbers are down over last year. Most teams turned in tallies that were 30 to 50 percent lower, in line with national trends noted by the North American Butterfly Association. Even so, we had some wonderful sightings, most notably, two different teams spotted Juniper Hairstreaks. This species is rarely seen past July and can be hard to find as their host plant is Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana). This is our only green butterfly. A couple of teams also sighted the odd looking American Snout. Although fewer Hackberry Emperors were seen, who can resist their friendly charm?
The tally for the count will be submitted to the North American Butterfly Association. The 2024 butterfly count will be held on Saturday, August 3.