Butterfly Census

June 20, 2009

Today was the annual butterfly census here in Sewanee.  Every year the North American Butterfly Association sponsors hundreds of butterfly counts across the United States, Mexico and Canada as a way of gauging changes in the butterfly population.  Butterflies are considered indicator creatures — if global climate change or pollution or habitat destruction are going to have an impact on our ecology, it’s going to show up first in things like butterflies.

Anyway, this is an event that I run every year along with a colleague of Nancy’s in the University biology department.  It was very hot today and there weren’t as many butterflies around as we had hoped, although we did wind up seeing thirty different species of butterfly and over 160 individual butterflies.  I’m totally wiped — we start the count at about 8:30 am and finish at about 5:00 pm.  We log a good twenty miles in the car and another seven or eight on foot.  And it was 94 degrees here today.

But we saw some very cool butterflies, including a few dozen Great Spangled Fritillaries and several different species of hairstreak, including this little gem, the Coral Hairstreak.  

Anyway, fun, tiring day.  Time for a beer, me thinks.