2020 Monarch TaggingPosted
Your gut feeling is usually right. This year I was contemplating how many Monarch tags I should order. Monarchs had a relatively good winter in Mexico and moderate numbers were exiting wintering grounds on schedule. All went well on their journey north with many reaching Sullivan County in early June. Then we went into a drought. I've been told that butterflies can survive heat, cold, rain, but not drought. Our numbers should have been going up but instead they plummeted. It seemed that Monarchs disappeared for the summer. A few started showing up again in August, just in time to lay eggs for our migrating population.
In fields in the Beechwoods area, Ruth McKeon and I usually collect hundreds of caterpillars to raise and release, but this year we were hard spent to come up with one hundred. I made several trips and was able to come up with a few more caterpillars. One day Alice Ferber helped me collect caterpillars. She not only handled the caterpillars with the gentlest touch, but she also caught several adults which we tagged and sent south to Mexico. Thanks Alice!
I had to place my order for tags in July and my gut told me it would be an off year. I only ordered 200 tags. Usually I order 500. Last year I raised almost 700 butterflies, but not this year. I only tagged 190, 104 males and 86 females. Now we hope that they have a great winter and spread out far and wide in the spring. We'll anticipate their return!
Yeah! We had another one of our Monarchs reported. #AAUY194 was a male Monarch that was collected as a caterpillar in the Beechwoods area of Sullivan County. He hatched on September 11, 2019 and I tagged and released him along with 43 others that day. On October 13th Tammy, who lives in Billingsley Alabama, caught a glimpse of him. Here is what she reported on the Monarch Watch database.
"We saw this Monarch, along with about 10 others on the pipeline behind my home at 2:58pm CST. We rode around for about 3 hours and counted 106 in all".
This is the first time we have ever had a butterfly reported on route to Mexico. As far as I could figure he flew a little over 32 miles a day and covered 1037 miles in 32 days. I hope he made it to his wintering grounds and had a great winter. Hopefully, his bloodlines have been passed down and I tagged one of his offspring this year!
2019 NABA Butterfly Count Posted
Butterfly counters from Sullivan County Audubon set out for our 26th year of doing the North American Butterfly Count. Our results go to the North American Butterfly Association and a report is printed yearly.
A wet spring is being blamed for the lack of numbers and species this year. April brought us 6.31 inches of rain, May brought us 6.54 inches and finally in June, things dried out a bit with only 2.02 inches. But the damage was already done. Many overwintering butterflies and caterpillars were drowned or could not get out to feed and breed. Many eggs just rotted away. It took several months for “southern” butterflies to make their way north and replenish our supply. The latter half of July and August are looking much better but grass skippers are still in very low numbers along with Fritillaries.
We had four teams this year out in the field and they counted 248 individuals of 23 species. This is our fifth lowest count ever. Pat Cocot, Mary Collier and Valerie Freer came up with the only Clouded and Orange Sulphurs. Ruth Shursky and Ruth McKeon found some of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Cabbage Whites and Red-spotted Purples. Russ Scheirer found Red Admirals along with Silver-spotted Skippers. Afton McGrath, Kate Hyden and Renee Davis found the only Banded Hairstreak, Summer Azure, Great Spangled Fritillary, Question Marks, Appalachian Brown, Little Wood-Satyr, Common Ringlet, Common Wood Nymph and two skippers, Mulberry Wing and Zabulon. All of the teams found Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Cabbage Whites, and Monarchs.
Many of the butterflies listed above are usually found in large numbers, for instance Great Spangled Fritillaries. This year we had two but in 2016 we had 123. In 2008 we had 791 European Skippers, this year 43. As you can see, our numbers are way down, but most people are in the same boat as us. I want to thank everyone for their efforts to keep this project going. We can only hope that next year we will bounce back and things will be back to normal, if there is a normal!
Warblings, Fall 2019
2019 Photos below, left to right:
American Lady © Pat Cocot; Mating Monarchs © Mary Collier; Milbert's Tortoiseshell © Renee Davis
Click each image to enlarge
Summer of the GIANT Swallowtail Posted
Several SCAS members have reported seeing the Giant Swallowtail this summer. For some, this was their first sighting of this large spectacular butterfly.
Those who reported seeing this butterfly were: Ruth McKeon, Ann Higgins, Kate Hyden, Valerie Freer, Rick Bunting (in Bainbridge, NY), and LaVerne Black (The photo at right was taken by LaVerne).
If you have seen this butterfly, you can let the editor of the newsletter know via or call 845-647-5496.
Warblings, Fall 2018
The Halls Mills Butterfly Count 7/7/18 Posted
Four teams participated in the Hall’s Mills butterfly count on July 7.
Team I: Stu & Valerie Alexander and Randy Golenboski - 21 species.
Team 2: Russell & Cathy Sheirer - 16 species.
Team 3: Valerie Freer and Mary Collier - 16 species.
Team 4: Renee Davis and Ruth McKeon - 21 species.
The total number of species identified on the count was 30 species. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were abundant at 207 individuals. There were in addition 48 Canadian Swallowtails and 184 Hybrid Swallowtails found. The teams also identified 296 European Skippers, 94 Great Spangled Fritillary’s, and 115 Cabbage Whites.
The 9 people on the count traveled a total of 115 miles by car and 4.5 miles on foot.
Warblings, Fall 2018
2018 Sullivan Butterfly CountPosted
On July 2 eight people set out to count as many butterflies as they could within a fifteen mile circle in middle to southern Sullivan County. It is the same circle that we use for the Christmas Count. This is the 25th year we’ve done this. So far we have counted 16,437 butterflies, that consists of 62 species and 1 hybrid.
This year our counters found 312 individuals of 26 different species. Isabel Arter, Mary Collier and Valerie Freer found the only Orange Sulphur, Spring (summer) Azure, Least Skipper, and Little Glassy-wing. Team Ruth (McKeon and Shursky) were joined by Diane VanWagner and found the only Meadow Fritillary, Painted Lady, and Delaware Skippers. Afton McGrath and Renee Davis found the only Spicebush Swallowtail, Eastern Tailed-blue, Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloak, Red Admiral, Northern Pearly-eye, Common Wood-nymph, Northern Broken-dash, and Dun Skippers. All of the teams found Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Cabbage Whites, and Monarchs. Clouded Sulphurs, Great Spangled Fritillaries, Red-spotted Purples, Silver-spotted Skippers, European Skippers, and Peck’s Skippers were all found by two teams.
Our day started out at 80 degrees and ended at a hot, hot, hot 95 degrees. Even the butterflies were taking shelter from the heat and sun. Needless to say, we were all melted at the end of the day. The 199 miles driven were our only reprieve in air conditioning, boy did that feel good!
I am looking forward to next year and I hope to see you all there. Good butterflying!
Warblings, Fall 2018
Sullivan's Butterflies Posted
Here we go again. Another year of butterflies. This spring has left a lot to be desired, April was wet and cold and May offered a few warm days here and there, but not many days in a row to promote hatching and emergence of overwintering adults. I saw my first Mourning Cloaks and Eastern Commas the week of April 4th which is right on schedule, but there were many days after that when cold and wet kept everybody grounded.
As we enter June there have been more sightings but not many numbers. I’ve talked to other butterfliers and asked their opinion as to the low numbers and no one has been able to put their finger on a good explanation. Hopefully things will come around and we will get back to normal, if there is one.
Our butterfly database has over 8000 records of butterflies reported within the county. Last year we produced our updated checklist and added 3 new species since our last printing. If you need any checklists let me know and I’ll get you some (or just download it and print it). We have records of 73 species and 3 subspecies in the county. Hopefully this year we will add more. So get out there and find those butterflies!
Warblings, Summer 2018
Butterflies in Mid-October…..Really? Posted
& Red Admiral
photo by Renee Davis
Click to enlarge
This report of an especially “rich” Oct. 18, 2017 butterfly sighting in Sullivan County at Rondout Reservoir was submitted to the North American Butterfly Association by Renee Davis.
Valerie Freer, Marge Gorton and I happened to look down at the flowers after looking at Common Loons off the parking lot viewing area at the Sullivan/Ulster border on Rte 55. Every butterfly was nectaring on the goldenrod. What a pleasant surprise for the 18th of October. This is the first Milbert’s that we have seen in years.
Milbert's Tortoiseshell 1 (the top butterfly in the photo at right)
Painted Lady 3
Red Admiral 1 (the bottom butterfly in the photo at right)
Common Buckeye 2
Warblings, Winter 2017-18
2017 Monarch Season Posted
Tagged and Released Monarchs
photo by Renee Davis
Click to enlarge
When I read that Monarchs survived their winter in Mexico and were streaming north in high numbers this spring, I started to get excited about our Monarch season here in Sullivan County. Many more of the Monarchs leaving Texas headed east this year instead of going north. Maybe they know that we have the milkweed and the midwest has lost most of theirs due to weed control in corn and soybean fields.
Monarchs started showing up in New York state by the end of May this year and I had our first reports in early June, almost a whole month earlier than normal. The females were busy laying eggs and it looked like we would have a terrific year. You could go out for a ride and almost be guaranteed to see one fluttering across the fields.
Ruth McKeon and I started collecting caterpillars in August to raise and tag. We have walked miles and miles through fields and this year we collected hundreds of caterpillars. I bring them home and care for them till they hatch. Every day on my way home from work, I would stop and pick a bucket of milkweed that would be devoured by the next day, all those hungry mouths! People have said to me “Why don't you just let nature take its course”? Here’s why: most of the 300+ caterpillars we collected were from fields that were going to be hayed within a day to a week. So I feel that we saved their lives and helped out the Monarch population. All of the farmers we contacted and asked for permission to enter their fields were very gracious, they were happy that we were saving the caterpillars.
Altogether I tagged 450 Monarchs this year, our highest ever. 17 of them were from the Jeff school where several teachers do a wonderful job in teaching the children about all the stages of the butterfly. They are very excited when they release the butterfly and watch it fly away. Charlie and Heather Hadden have raised caterpillars for a few years now so that their children understand the life cycle too. This year they raised 24, good job! While gardening around my house I tagged several wild ones and the Wurtsboro Airport also produced many this year. That is along the migration route at the bottom of the Shawangunk Ridge.
If you have any spare time check out journeynorth.org/monarch to see a spectacular show of Monarchs reaching their wintering grounds in Mexico. The skies are full, it’s impressive! Now I hope they have a good winter with no frosts, so all can head north again in February. I’m already looking forward to next year!
Warblings, Winter 2017-18
4th Of July Butterfly Count in the Monticello Circle Posted
On July 5th, three parties consisting of 11 people set off for a day of butterfly counting within a circle from Monticello to Wurtsboro to Forestburgh. Their goal was to count individual butterflies for the North American Butterfly Association, a project Sullivan Audubon has done for 24 years. It was not a banner year due to weather. Many wet and cold days in May and June and even into July, were not exactly the right conditions for our winged wonders. With all of these setbacks the 2017 count was a little less than average for us. Together all of us counted 316 individuals, higher than the 1994 count when only 61 individuals were counted and much lower than the 2006 count when 1683 individuals were counted.
Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky found the only Silver-spotted Skipper, and Atlantis Fritillaries. They also had the highest count of Great Spangled Fritillaries 23, and Red-spotted Purples 4.
The team of Valerie Freer, Pat Cocot, Gloria Wagenknecht, and Mary Collier found the only Black Swallowtails 3, Aphrodite Fritillaries 10, Meadow Fritillaries 8, and a bonus of a Common Buckeye. This is only the second time since 2011 that one has been found on our count. They had the highest count of 4 Eastern-tiger Swallowtails, 26 Clouded Sulphurs, 3 Orange Sulphurs, 4 Monarchs and 8 European Skippers.
Kate Hyden, Truth and Maura Muller and Renee Davis found the only Mulberry Wings. This was super special to us as it was a lifer for all. It has only been seen twice before, and not since 2008. We had the highest number of Cabbage Whites 46, 6 Red Admirals, 4 American Lady’s, 4 Little Wood Satyrs, 3 Common Wood-nymphs, and 7 Dun Skippers, and we tied Valerie's group with 9 Eastern-tailed Blues,
A special treat for all of us was that the new book, A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America by Jeffrey Glassberg, was given to each of the persons doing the count. The books were donated by a member of SCAS. I have to say that these books came in handy and got their workout that day. The skipper section (sparrows of the butterfly world!) made it easy to narrow species and identify the one you were looking at. If you are thinking of purchasing a butterfly field guide I highly recommend this one, it’s informative and easy to use.
Terrific book. Thanks Jeff!
We had a lot of “new“ blood doing our count this year. It was fun to see the enthusiasm and interest in learning the individuals species, let alone the “thrill” of the hunt. Spotting them is the first call to duty, identifying second. The more eyes the better, so next year please come out and lend us your “eyes”. I guarantee you’ll have a great time!
Warblings, Fall 2017
The Halls Mills Butterfly Count 7/2/17 Posted
The Hall’s Mills Butterfly Count happened on a warm sunny day after a cold, wet, end of June. The butterflies were hatching and fresh adults were abundant. Many great photos of Fritillaries, Swallowtails, and others were taken.
Valerie Freer, Mary Collier, Rick Bunting, Tannar Cliffe, and Melinda Cormier counted from South Hill to Thunder Hill to Hasbrouck. They found 22 species including 5 Aphrodite Fritillaries, 5 Monarchs, and the only Wood Nymphs, Northern Broken Dash, and Least Skipper counted.
Russel Sheirer, the Barefoot Gardener, counted the Rt. 55 corridor from Neversink to Grahamsville. He counted Red Admirals, Orange and Clouded Sulphurs, and an Aphrodite.
Stu and Valerie Alexander, and Randy Golemboski counted Hall’s Mills, Blue Hill, Frost Valley, and Claryville. With our 21 species we found 17 Hybrid Tiger Swallowtails, 2 Pearl Crescents, a Northern Pearly Eye, and a Gray Hairstreak (See photo on color insert.)
Renee Davis, Ruth McKeon, and Ruth Shursky counted from Aden Hill to Willowemoc and Browns Settlement. Among their 23 species they counted 438 European Skippers, 34 White Admiral, 35 Atlantis Fritillary, a Black Swallowtail, Little Wood Satyr, and a Silver Spotted Skipper.
Big numbers for the day were European Skipper 496, Cabbage White 66, Great Spangled Fritillary 56, Atlantis Fritillary 47, White Admiral 39, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 32. Totals for the count were 32 species, 986 adults and one Monarch larva. Much fun was had by all!!!
Warblings, Fall 2017
Photos below, left to right:
Viceroy by Rick Davis; Gray Hairstreak by Stu Alexander;
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail by Gloria Wagenknecht;
Northern Pearly Eye by Stu Alexander; Aphrodite Fritillary by Mary Collier
Click each image to enlarge
Yep, that’s right, they’ll be here soon. Monarchs that is. We usually see the first ones here in Sullivan around the first week of July. I have to say that the weather this year has not been the best for butterflying but hopefully it will straighten out by then. We have had Monarchs on every butterfly count for the last 23 years except for 2015, when not one was found on the day of the count. Ruth McKeon did have one in June, 2015 at her place in Woodbourne and others started appearing after July 9th. So far, as we go to print, they have been reported as far north as Maine. Maybe they will be here sooner this year. In our area milkweed is up and looking very good for egg laying females. Our butterfly count is Wed, July 5th with a rain date of Sunday, July 9th. Stu Alexander's Halls Mills count will be on Sunday July 2nd. If you can identify or even spot butterflies we need your help. Please call either of us to sign up. See Coming Events.
Overwintering colonies in Mexico were down slightly this year and covered only 2.91 hectares, last year they covered 4.01 hectares. This is still better than the winter of 13/14 when only 0.67 hectares were covered. A hectare is 2.47 acres. The largest colonies recorded to date covered 18.19 hectares in the winter of 96/97. I hope we can reach those numbers again.
I will be raising caterpillars again this year so if you find any that you would like me to raise please contact me and I will make arrangements to get them. Like last year I will be tagging and releasing them. Maybe we can make a difference and add to the population.
Warblings, Summer 2017
The Halls Mills Butterfly Count 7/10/16 Posted
The Hall’s Mills Butterfly Count happened on the rain date of 7/10/16 after an all day soaker 7/9. It was a cool day with just enough sun in the morning to get the butterflies airborne.
Renee Davis and Afton McGrath counted Willowemoc and Fir Brook and found the most adults and 18 species. They had the only Summer Azures. Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky counted Hasbrouck and Thunder Hill to South Hill. They counted 59 Great Spangled Fritillaries, and saw Clouded Sulphurs, Wood Nymphs, and a Pearl Crescent. Stu and Valerie Alexander counted from Neversink to Blue Hill and Claryville. We found American Coppers, Spicebush Swallowtail, American Ladies, and Commas. We found 4 Monarchs in 4 different fields. Valerie Freer, Mary Collier, Rick Bunting, Isabel Arter, and Tanner Cliff counted from Bradley to Aden Hill to Smith Rd. They found 16 species including the only Striped Hairstreak. Russel Scheirer counted while being the Barefoot Gardener. He got a surprise with a Little Wood Satyr.
Totals for the day are 26 species and 792 adults. Not bad for a damp cloudy day and a whole lot of fun!!
Warblings, Fall 2016
Monticello Butterfly Count 7/3/16Posted 9/16/16
On July 3rd Sullivan County Audubon conducted its 23rd year of counting butterflies for the North American Butterfly Association annual butterfly count. Three groups set out to cover our count circle area, which is a 15 mile circle with the center being the Neversink Gorge in Monticello. This is the same area for our Christmas Count, but that's another story, different time, different season! The weather gods were on our side with the morning and early afternoon being sunny and warm. The latter part of the afternoon turned cloudy and put many butterflies to bed for the rest of the day.
Our teams traveled 176.2 miles in their search and came up with 23 species on their lists. Total individuals were down from other years with 309, only 5 other years were lower in numbers. Weather had a major effect on butterflies this year. March and April had warmer temperatures but also lower temps in the teens that took a toll on adults that already had begun to fly. Many were killed before they could repopulate so we saw the effect by fewer numbers. As the weather warmed, and stayed warm, species began filtering in from the south. We are now seeing more numbers with a good variety of species, but still not like it used to be.
Special thanks go out to Valerie Freer, Mary Collier, Ruth McKeon, Ruth Shursky and Afton McGrath for their energy and hard work making this a fun, and great thing we're doing, not only for NABA and Sullivan County, but for ourselves. What a great feeling of accomplishment!
Warblings, Fall 2012
Sullivan Butterflies - 2016
Summer in Sullivan County brings out some of the best things in nature. Wildflowers, birds, amphibians, and one of my favorites, butterflies!
Several species have been reported so far this year: Spring Azure, Mourning Cloaks, Meadow Fritillaries, American Ladies, and Eastern Commas, just to mention a few. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have finally begun to hatch and are showing up everywhere. Memorial Day weekend is one of the best times to see lots of these beauties, especially around the reservoirs, but they continue all summer.
Our butterfly count is coming up on July 3rd with a rain date of the 6th. We are always looking for experienced Counters, but spotters are just as important, if not more. If you are not sure of the butterfly just bring it to our attention and, hopefully, someone will be able to identify it. Numbers count so the more eyes we have spotting, the better the count.
All of the records from these counts go into our butterfly database which has 7021 records so far. I know I sound like a broken record, but please send me your reports.
If you are not sure of a butterfly maybe we can figure it out together. Go ahead, give it a try and get me those sightings.
Warblings, Summer 2016
DOW Launches a New Assault on Monarchs
NRDC uses a full page in The New York Times to urge us to make our voices heard and stop DOW from moving forward.
Butterfly Count #22 Posted
photo by Mary Collier
Click to enlarge
On July 5th eight hardy butterfly counters again headed into the wilds of Monticello to count butterflies for the 22nd year in a row; riding the roads to the tune of 196 miles, hiking trails and trudging through meadows.
Team Ruth (McKeon and Shursky) found 108 butterflies consisting of 11 species, with the only Atlantis & Meadow Fritillaries and Delaware Skippers.
Tannar with grandfather Rick Bunting, along with Valerie Freer and Mary Collier found 146 individuals of 19 species and the only Monarch caterpillars. No adult Monarch butterflies were seen that day. Their eagle eyes spotted the only Black Swallowtail, Striped Hairstreaks, Aphrodite Fritillaries, Common Ringlet, Least Skippers and Little Glassywings.
Marge Gorton and Renee Davis wound up with 21 species with 412 individuals. We had the only Spicebush Swallowtails, Banded Hairstreaks, Pearl Crescents, Eastern Commas, Mourning Cloak, Eyed Browns and Little Wood-satyrs.
When all the results were totaled we ended up with 666 butterflies, 31 total species and 3 Monarch caterpillars. I would like to thank everyone who helped out on this project. It is a lot of fun and I look forward to it each year. I can't wait till next year!
This count is done for The National Butterfly Association. Its information is valuable for determination of how each species of butterfly is doing, as a whole, all over the country and world
Warblings, Fall 2015
Sullivan Butterflies - 2015
As we go into the fall it is still a good time to spot butterflies. This summer was very good, producing most of the normal species we would expect to see in Sullivan County.
One exciting find was by Rich Kelly and John Collins. On May 17th they were butterflying in the Bashakill and found a Dreamy Duskywing. That is a new species for Sullivan and something for us all to keep an eye out for. Great Butterfly! Thanks guys.
Monarchs have been far and few again this year. Reports from around the country vary somewhat. The central part of the US seem to be a little better than last year, while here in the east it seems to be the same if not a little worse. One or two Monarchs were seen in June and a few in July. August seemed better and now we are seeing caterpillars so the adults have been around. Ruth McKeon has dropped off many caterpillars for me to raise and tag. Valerie, Marge and I found four last week and they are growing nicely. Soon they will be on their way to Mexico---Adios amigos!
photo by Rick Bunting
Giant Swallowtails are also in the area again. I had two so far in my garden, and 1 dead one at Agway. When Ruth dropped off caterpillars the other day at Agway she rescued one trapped behind the door of the greenhouse and sent it on its way. It's nice to see these big southern butterflies in our area. They are expanding their range and are almost reliable every year now. How nice.
Warblings, Fall 2015
The Halls Mills Butterfly Count 7/12/14 Posted
photo by Renee Davis
Four teams participated in the Hall’s Mills Butterfly count this year. The day was warm with 40% sun in the morning and 50% sun in the afternoon. Wind was slight at 0-5 mph. The temperature was 68 degrees and reached 84 degrees in the afternoon.
The four teams found 32 species and 1133 individuals. Team 4 led with 25 species and 455 individuals.
View complete results.
Team 1 - Hall’s Mills, Blue Hill, Frost Valley, Claryville, Red Hill, 23 miles by car and 2 miles on foot. Stu Alexander and Randy Golemboski. 6 hours.
Team 2 - South Hill, East half Rondout Reservoir, Sundown to Peekamoose, Lackawack Hill, 50 miles. Valerie Freer and Mary Collier. 7 hours.
Team 3 - Rt. 55 Neversink to Grahamsville. 27 miles. Russel and Cathy Scheirer. 5.5 hours.
Team 4 - Thunder Hill to Hasbrouck. Grants Rd. to Aden Hill to Willowemoc and Browns Settlement. 73 miles. Ruth McKeon and Renee Davis. 7 hrs.
Warblings, Fall 2014
Photos below, left to right:
Clouded Sulphur and Eastern Comma by Renee Davis; Giant Swallowtail by Scott Baldinger; Giant Swallowtail and Meadow Fritillary by Renee Davis – Click each image to enlarge
The Halls Mills Butterfly Count 7/14/13Posted
After a rainy early summer, July 14 turned out to be an excellent day to count butterflies. Although not very sunny the warmer, dryer weather brought out big numbers.
Topping the list were 214 Wood Nymphs, 210 Dun Skippers, and 164 Great Spangled Fritillaries. Russ and Cathy Sheirer covered New Age Spa to Rondout Reservoir and found Hickory Hairstreaks and an American Lady. Ruth Shursky and Ruth McKeon covered Mutton Hill, Thunder Hill, and Hasbrouck. They found the only American Copper and Silver Spotted Skippers. Randy Golemboski and I covered Hall's Mills, Blue Hill, and Claryville. We found a Black Swallowtail, Eastern Tailed Blues, Banded Hairstreak, and a Buckeye. Woo Hoo!!! Renee Davis covered Aden Hill to Willowemoc and Browns Settlement. She found the only White Admiral, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Crossline and Dion Skippers.
Total ID species was 35 with 1338 individuals. Only 2 Monarchs were counted after the lowest number on record over wintered in Mexico. We are hopeful they will rebound as tagging season approaches
Warblings, Fall 2013
Butterfly Count 2013Posted 9/12/13
Thanks to thunderstorms, our twentieth butterfly count was held on rain date of Sunday, July 7. Prior to our count we had a week of torrential downpours, temperatures in the 90's, with 90 % humidity to go along with it all. Not the best weather for butterflying. Even the butterflies don't like that. Sunday was better, not by much though. At 9 am it was 78 degrees, hot and humid. We ended up with a high of 88 degrees, and a violent thunderstorm ended our count at the Bashakill area early. Ruth McKeon and I sat in my car under trees hoping the hail would not crack my windshield! Trees came down across Rte 209 in the wind, and the butterflies called it quits for the day at 3 pm. I don't blame them. People in the upper part of the circle had better weather and continued until 5 pm with no storms or rain.
Stu Alexander found the only Striped and Hickory Hairstreaks, Baltimore Checkerspot, Northern Pearly Eye, Silver-spotted Skippers, Crossline Skippers, and Long Dash. Valerie Freer, Rick Bunting and Mary Collier found the only American Copper, Eastern-tailed Blues, Question Mark, Eastern Commas, Northern Broken-dash, and Little Glassywings. I was fortunate enough to find a Monarch laying eggs. I couldn't pull myself away, and I watched her lay 30 eggs. She was one of only 5 seen that day.
At the end of the day, when we all wilted away, 31 species were totaled. 592 individuals were seen, which is our lowest count since 2002. I feel it was because of weather and not of a decrease in butterfly numbers or species. The week following was more favorable and many butterflies were out and about. We'll just have to look forward to next year. I can't wait!
Warblings, Fall 2013
Sullivan County ButterfliesPosted
It's butterfly season again--WOO HOO! That makes me happy, Very happy. In 2003, thanks to the prodding from Valerie Freer, I started our butterfly database for Sullivan County. Over the years butterfly watchers have reported 5888 records to me, that total 36,807 butterflies seen in our county. It's amazing ... think about it ... that many butterflies.
Keep your eye out for Monarchs this year. They have had the worst season ever. The numbers of overwintering adults in Mexico have been the least amount in history. Experts say that an area less than two football fields is the size of the overwintering population. Although it can't be proven yet, many feel it is because of genetically engineered crops grown in the midwest. I'll have more on that subject in the next issue. In the meantime, if you have a patch of milkweed, please leave it for the monarchs.
It's the only plant that they can raise their caterpillars on. If you don't want it to spread, pick the seed
pods off before they ripen. There are many annual and perennial plants that can be planted in your garden or in pots that will act as host plants for larvae, or nectaring plants to attract other species of butterflies. All you have to do is plant it and they will come!
photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge
Many people pay attention to our winged beauties but have a difficult time identifying them. I like to take many pictures so I can review them later. Even the experts misidentify, but they don't give up. When you see a butterfly, keep your eye on it as long as you can. Pay attention to as many details that you can. What color is it, size, wing patterns, any spots, and stripes? Posture, are they sitting with wings open or closed? Flight style, are they fast flapping or do they flap then glide? What plants are they nectaring on? Every clue may help you narrow down many species and help you identify the correct one.
Once you've done that----get the record to me! It's easy, one way is to report it on our website's butterfly reporting form, or call me before 7 pm, or mail them to me 124 Stump Pond Rd, Livingston Manor NY 12758. Make your record count. Now get out there and find those butterflies!
Warblings, Summer 2013
The Halls Mills Butterfly Count 7/8/12 ResultsPosted
An excellent count was had by all participants on a beautiful, sunny day. Good weather leading up to the count made for very healthy nectar sources and high numbers of butterflies. The 4 teams counted 1635 individuals and 31 ID species. The team of Valerie Freer, Mary Collier, and Rick Bunting covered Aden to Willowemoc and found 25 species. They had the only 4 Tawny Edged Skipper, 31 Meadow Fritillary, 38 Aphrodite Fritillary, and 57 Monarchs. Team Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky covered South of 55 from Grahamsville to Hasbrouck. They found the only Eastern Comma and had 17 species. John Haas covered Grahamsville and South Hill to Ulster Heights. He counted the only Spicebush Swallowtail and only 2 Question Mark as well as 177 Little Glassy Wing. John had 20 species and 507 individuals. Team Stu and Valerie Alexander covered Claryville, Hall's Mills, and Blue Hill. We found the only 2 Canadian Tiger Swallowtail and 22 species.
All time high numbers for the count were set for Black Swallowtail - 6, Aphrodite Fritillary. - 40, Meadow Fritillary. - 33, Monarch - 187, Wood Nymph - 108, Little Glassy Wing -196, and Dun Skipper - 143. We can only hope to have as good a day for the count next year.
Warblings, Fall 2012
Monticello Butterfly CountPosted 8/28/12
On Wednesday, June 27, ten diehard Sullivan County Auduboners set out for our 19th annual butterfly count for the North American Butterfly Association. Although it was sunny, the wind did us no favor. Early morning started with about 5mph winds and steadily increased to 25mph. Hold on to your hats!! Butterflies can't maneuver in those winds so our count was a little off compared to other years. We ended up with 31 species which is not too far from our high of 40 and better than our low of 17.
Valerie Freer's team of Rick Bunting, Isabel Arter, and Mary Collier added the first Giant Swallowtail to our count. It was at Wolf Brook and was a very, worn adult. We'll take it no matter what condition it's in! I'm glad it lived till at least that day, and it stayed in an area to be seen by those sharp-eyed butterfly stalkers.
Afton Lazier's eagle eyes were quick to call out butterflies faster than I could get on them! She has been my partner for several years now and is becoming a real pro at this. John Haas was excited to find a Striped Hairstreak which was a lifer for him. What a great feeling it is to run across a lifer when you're not expecting one. Congratulations John! Arlene Borko along with John found our only hybrid that day, a Red-spotted Admiral. This is a cross of a White Admiral and a Red-spotted Purple. Ruth Shursky and Ruth McKeon found the only Baltimore Checkerspot that day. That is one of the prettiest butterflies found in our area. Way to go Team Ruth, great find!
We had our best year yet with Monarchs, a total of 70. Our last best year was 2010, when we counted 36, slightly more than half of this year's count. This is a great year for Monarchs, and I'm looking forward to tagging again in September.
Temperatures ranged from 61 to 77 degrees that day but there were a few sheltered spots within the count circle. That allowed us to count 1085 total individual butterflies, not bad considering the wind! Over the years our high counts have been in 2006 with 1683, 2008 produced 1592, and in 2007 we counted 1173. All in all 2012 was a good year in our record books. Thanks to everyone involved. I'm looking forward to next year!
Warblings, Fall 2012
Have You Counted the Butterflies? Posted
Red Admiral, photo by Valerie Freer
Click to enlarge
Here We Go Again Yep, it's that time of year again---butterfly season! I've had many reports so far this year and I feel it could be one of our best seasons ever. Warm weather in March and April brought many butterflies out of hibernation early and several species were reported earlier than ever.
Red Admirals have been migrating northward by the thousands in April and May. From my front porch on May 4th, in one hour I counted 366 individuals. Just think, that was going on up and down the east coast and into the Midwest. I counted a dozen females laying eggs on my sting nettle (larval food plant) and I look forward to watching the caterpillars grow. Experts feel the warm winter had a positive effect on wintering populations and most made it through.
I tallied butterflies in years past and came up with fantastic numbers. Through 2011 there have been 32498 butterflies reported in our database. Some of those included in that number are 2186 Eastern Tiger-Swallowtails, 1167 Orange Sulphurs, 1168 Great Spangled Fritillaries, 5279 Monarchs and 7083 Cabbage Whites.
Reporting butterflies is simple, go to our website, sullivanaudubon.org, go to butterflies and then click on the online report form. It's very simple, if you don't feel comfortable around computers then please call me with your report at 482-5044 but not after 7 pm. I'll be looking forward to your findings!
Warblings, Summer 2012
The last time I reported about our butterflies we had just finished the rainy months of April and May. I have to say the summer did straighten out and gave us some great butterfly days. In June we had 21 species reported with a total of 1743 individuals. Now that’s better! Twelve, new for the year, species were added for that month.
July turned out to be a gem, kind of like the Hope Diamond. We added a new species to our checklist---Giant Swallowtail. This beauty showed up at Bill Cogswell’s butterfly garden in Liberty and hung around for three days. Two weeks later a very worn one also showed up. I’m thinking it was the same one, so for two weeks it flew around the Liberty-Walnut Mountain area. These butterflies have been expanding north and have been reported in Ulster regularly the past three years. I knew it would only be a matter of time before we had them here. Thank you, Bill!
Another butterfly that has been seen this year in good numbers is the Common Buckeye. It too has been expanding its range. Usually one or two might be seen in certain years but not this year! They made it on both butterfly counts and have been seen regularly all season. I had five at my house the other day.
Getting back to how good July was, we had 46 species reported with 1916 individuals. Twenty more were added for the year which now brings us up to a whopping 44 species and one hybrid.
The days are growing shorter and sun’s rays are not as strong but they’re still out there, lots of them. Please take a stroll along a weedy roadside or visit some of the beautiful village gardens in your area and take a look at these winged beauties. They’re only here for a short time, so get going!
Warblings, Fall 2011
The Monticello CountPosted
Common Buckeye, photo by Renee Davis
Click to enlarge
I couldn’t wait for July 3rd to roll around as it was going to be our 18th annual NABA butterfly count for the season. I had all the teams lined up like ducks in a row and we were ready---- It rained. It rained a lot. It rained so much that it made a severe impact on the count when we finally had it on Wed the 6th. Many adult butterflies were drowned or killed so most of the ones we dealt with were fresh specimens or very lucky individuals.
We had four groups out scouring the circle and they came up with 36 species along with our orange/clouded sulphur hybrid again. A new species was added to our annual count list, Common Buckeye. These little beauties are popping up all over the county this year. I love ‘em! Oak and Gray Hairstreaks were seen this year, first time since 2006. An Atlantis Fritillary made a showing. This is the first since 2004. Orange Sulphurs were the most abundant with 125 individuals, next were European Skippers with 121 individuals. Delaware Skippers and Cabbage Whites numbered in the 90s. Eastern Tiger-Swallowtails have had a great year with 75 being seen that day.
All the teams ended the day finding 723 butterflies. This number is not far off other years, in 2009 we had 720, in 2004 we had 788, and in 2003 we had 766. Our high count was in 2006 with 1683 butterflies being seen. Weather plays such an important role and I think it bit us this year. The days prior to the count were superb, but it took many days after the count to return to normal. I would like to thank Team Ruth—Shursky and McKeon, Team Scheirer-Russ and Walter, along with Marge Gorton, Arlene Borko and John Haas for all the dedicated work and time they put into this project. I can’t wait till next year!
Warblings, Fall 2011
The Halls Mills CountPosted
Stu Alexander led a very successful Halls Mills Butterfly Count on July 10, with 5 teams searching the northern parts of the county and up to Frost Valley. When all results were combined we had counted 1202 butterflies of 32 different species, with 295 E. Tiger Swallowtail the most common. A total of 40 Atlantis Fritillaries were found by 4 teams. A usually uncommon species, the Buckeye, was found by 3 teams. (The most common species last year, 540 Red Admirals, was not found at all this year!!)
Participating teams included Stu Alexander and Bud Angelotti, John Haas, Renee Davis and Afton Lazier, Ruth Shursky and Ruth McKeon, and Russ and Cathy Scheirer. Many thanks to all!
Valerie Freer and Stu Alexander
Warblings, Fall 2011
We had a great summer for butterflies in Sullivan County this year. August heat produced 15 different species adding 660 individuals to our year count. September was another story.
On September 2 we were tagging Monarchs in the fields at Wurtsboro Airport when Tannar Bunting-Cliffe found a Wild Indigo Duskywing. That was a new butterfly for Sullivan County. Thank-you Tannar! Also that day, Isabel Arter and Maya Bunting-Cliffe helped tag 5 Monarchs and sent them on their way to Mexico. (See photos in the December 2010 - February 2011 issue of Warblings, showing Renee sharing her tagging knowledge with these young butterfliers .)
September turned in 20 different species and added 867 individuals, bringing our total up to 4961 butterflies for the summer.
My thanks also go out to Valerie Freer, Rick Bunting, John Haas, Kate Hyden, Russ Scheirer, Marge Gorton, Ruth Shursky, Ruth McKeon and Paul Cliffe for all their help with butterfly records for the county.
Up to October we now have 49 species reported for Sullivan, but again no Milbert’s Tortoiseshell this year. Maybe next year we’ll find them again!
Warblings, December 2010-February 2011
Hall's Mills Butterfly
Good butterfly weather leading up to and during the 8th Hall’s Mills Count made for a huge butterfly count. Total individuals counted were 2735 after a previous high in ’06 of 1060. It was the 4th time in the 8 year history of the count that we had 34 identified species with a high of 38 in ’04. We had an all time high of individuals of 11 species and one new species.
Red Admiral on Dogbane, photo by Valerie Freer
Click to enlarge
The highest number for a single species was 540 Red Admirals after 0 last year. After consulting Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast, the Red Admiral numbers tend to spike about every 10 years and then crash. The last big year was ’01. Other big numbers were for Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - 323, Clouded Sulfur – 224, Great Spangled Fritillary – 183, and Pearl Crescent – 393.
Team Ruth, Shursky and McKeon, counted 75 Clouded Sulfur and 75 Pearl Crescent. Team Sheirer counted 130 Red Admirals, 120 Pearl Crescent, and the only American Copper. Valerie Freer and Mary Collier counted the only Tawny Edged Skippers, Question Mark, Eastern Tailed Blue, and new to the count a Dion Skipper. Valerie was quite excited as she was on the lookout for the Dion Skipper with its distinctive “rays” under the hind wing. Renee Davis and Arlene Borko counted the first Painted Lady since ’04 and 123 Pearl Crescent. Team Alexander counted (Continued on page 7) (Continued from page 2) 4 Canadian Tiger, and Delaware Skippers.
Having 5 teams for the first time and great weather helped make this a monster of a count. We can only hope for the same conditions and participation in ’11. For the full count check naba.org.
Warblings, September-October 2010
June and July Butterflies - 2010Posted
June brought us some nice summer weather and some nice butterflies. We held our 17th annual NABA butterfly count on June 30th. Ten hardy members got out and counted 1087 butterflies of 36 different species. New to our count was Pipevine Swallowtail. We all noticed how many Red Admirals were migrating at this time. It seems that this was an irrruptive year for this species. In Toronto, Canada, they were being counted at over 1000 an hour migrating by one lookout post. The watchers here in Sullivan County reported 402 in June and July. The last time we had numbers like this was in 2004.
June produced 1315 different individuals of 38 species and one hybrid found by Stu Alexander, Valerie Freer, Mary Collier and Rick Bunting. It seems Clouded Sulphurs are crossing with Orange Sulphurs and producing a white hybrid. Keep your eyes peeled; there may be more to come.
July brought us some of the hottest, muggiest weather we’ve seen in a long time. Good for the butterflies; tough on us! We viewed 1785 butterflies consisting of 32 species along with one more hybrid. White Admirals will cross with Red-spotted Purples and produce Red-spotted Admirals. They are not uncommon and can usually be found with some searching. Valerie Freer and Mary Collier also found a new species to our Sullivan list, a Dion Skipper. They spotted a “larger” skipper on Aden Road wildflowers and recognized it immediately. The week prior they had worked and worked on a skipper that Valerie’s brother-in-law, Rick Bunting had photographed in Bainbridge. It turned out to be a Dion Skipper, so needless to say they were “pros” when it came to this little beauty.
Sullivan’s butterfly list for the year is doing well. We are up to 48 species with a total of 3434 individuals. We are still missing Milbert’s Tortoiseshell this year. No one saw one in Sullivan last year and Stu Alexander has only seen one in Frost Valley this year. My thanks go out to those of you already listed in this article and Ruth Shursky, Ruth McKeon, Arlene Borko, Marge Gorton, Russ and Cathy Scheirer, Valerie Alexander and everyone who has contributed to Sullivan’s butterfly database. Keep up the good work!
Warblings, September-October 2010
Monarch News - Read about
Monarch #344: AKA Bittersweet and more.
As we go to print for this November Warblings I am still getting in reports of butterflies. Not late reports but reports of late butterflies! Who would have thought that we would have butterflies in November, in past years we have had snow by now. It’s amazing what a little warm sunshine can produce!
September produced 218 butterflies of 12 different species. 59 Clouded Sulphurs beat out 56 Cabbage Whites for the highest number of individuals. October produced 102 butterflies with Clouded Sulphurs again being one the most numerous species.
Ruth Shursky and I were able to tag 91 Monarchs this year and Stu and Valerie Alexander also tagged many, but that’s another story. More to come!
This year members saw 47 different species consisting of 2597 individuals of butterflies in Sullivan County. What was interesting is that several common species were missed this year. Compton Tortoiseshell, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and Painted Ladys were not listed by anyone (Milbert’s being my favorite). Less common species missed were several different hairstreaks, Aphrodite and Atlantis Fritillaries, Baltimore Checkerspots, Tawny-edged Skipper, N Broken Dash and Mulberry Wings. I’m sure all the wet weather we had must have affected them. I know it put a cog in my wheel this year. Let’s hope next year will be better!
Warblings, December 2009-February 2010
May-June 2009 Butterfly
May turned out to be a terrific month for butterflies
but June left MUCH to be desired. We actually had sun
and warmth in May but a lot of rain and cooler temperatures
for June. Still in all butterfly watchers in Sullivan
County found 37 species with a total of 931 butterflies.
Six new species of butterflies have been added to the
checklist so far this year thanks to the efforts of
Stu Alexander, Tom Fiore, Christine Wallstrom, Valerie
Freer, Marge Gorton and myself. Our overall total number
of species found in Sullivan stands at 66, and this
year reports have totaled 36 species. Thanks also go
to Lois Head, John Haas, Ruth Shursky and Ruth McKeon
for their efforts in reporting sightings. Report your sightings here
on our website.
Now get out there! View
Photos of Some of Our New Species
Wednesday, July 1, was not our best butterfly count
due to the weather. Almost daily thunderstorms left
everything very wet and the Bashakill fogged in well
into late morning. The sun finally poked its face out
and warmed everything up including the butterflies.
Team Ruth, Shursky and McKeon, found the only Viceroy
on that day, while Russ Scheirer found the only Long
Dash in his area. Marge Gorton and I found the only
American Lady, White Admiral, Northern Pearly Eye, and
Little Glassywing. Stu and Valerie Alexander hit a
gold mine on their route producing terrific pictures
of a Crossline Skipper and Hoary Edge Skippers. Both
of these are new to our count! They also saw the only
Banded hairstreak, Eastern Comma, Red Admiral, and
Little Wood-satyr. Among the four teams we drove a
total of 173 miles in 20 hours and walked 5 miles to
produce 27 species totaling 720 butterflies. And one
of the best things------ I can’t wait for next
Several SCAS members participated in two separate
butterfly counts in Sullivan County during
July. Photos of some of the species
found can be seen on the color insert
of the September-October issue of Warblings..
Both of our butterfly count leaders, Renee Davis
and Stu Alexander, will be tagging Monarch butterflies
again this year. See Coming Events
consider joining one of Renee’s tagging
by Rick Bunting
(Click photo to enlarge)
2008 Christmas Count
Circle Butterfly Count
Five teams set out on July 2 to count as many butterflies
as they could find within our Christmas Count Circle
for the North American Butterfly Association. The 15
mile diameter circle
center is within the Neversink Gorge and covers an area from
the Bashakill to Mongaup Reservoir, and Thompsonville to
Stu Alexander found 4 Hickory Hairstreaks (this is
only the third time these have been found on our count)
and 18 Delaware Skippers. He had the highest count
of 19 Silver Spotted Skippers, and 3 Spicebush Swallowtails.
Team Ruth (Shursky and McKeon) found one of the two,
new to our list, Least Skippers. In their travels they
also found 45 Cabbage Whites and 14 Clouded Sulphurs.
They had the highest count of 6 Peck’s Skippers
and 5 Tawny-edged Skippers.
Valerie Freer and Mary Collier found the other Least
Skipper along with our only Spring Azure, Baltimore
Checkerspot, and Juvenal’s Duskywing (also new
to our list). They found 1 of 2 Common Ringlets
and 1 of 2 Eastern Tailed Blues.
John Haas and Arlene Borko combed their area with
a fine tooth comb and found 1 of two Aphrodite Fritillaries
along with the only American Copper, White Admiral,
Long Dash’s, and Mullberrywings. They got into
a big hatch of European Skippers and counted 250 on
Forestburgh Road and 300 on Baer Road. Their total
of Europeans for the day was 697. They had the other
Eastern Tailed Blue and Common Ringlet, along with
high counts of 9 American Ladies, 35 Orange Sulphurs,
28 Great Spangled Fritillaries, and 52 Dun Skippers.
Afton Lazier and I found a Bronze Copper which was
new to our list along with a high number of 45 Little
Glassywings. We had 5 Black Swallowtails, 6 Banded
Hairstreaks, 8 Eastern Commas, 4 Compton Tortoiseshells
and 6 Little Wood Satyrs.
Our day started off a little cool at 65 degrees but
warmed up to 85 degrees by midday. Between the ten
of us we walked only 3.5 miles but drove 193 miles
(that hurt at the gas pump). After spending 28.5 hours
in the field we tallied 36 species with 1592 individuals,
a little behind our best year of 2006 were we had our
highest total of 40 species, with 1683 individuals.
Mills Butterfly Count
The 6th Hall's Mills Butterfly Count happened on July 9. This count includes
Claryville to Devine Corners, Neversink, Grahamsville, to Sundown. It was
a muggy day but the sun came out just enough to get butterflies airborne. Four
teams and one garden watcher counted 30 species and 688 individuals. Numbers
for skippers and smaller butterflies were down.
Renee Davis and Marge Gorton reported the only Baltimore Checkerspots and
found 25 of them! Valerie Freer and Mary Collier counted 2 Coral Hairstreaks
and discovered a new milkweed field where they counted hundreds of adult butterflies. It
was a big day for Fritillaries with 93 Great Spangled, 57 Meadow, 38 Atlantis,
and 6 Aphrodite. One notable omission is zero Red Admirals after counting
109 a year ago. For information please call Stu Alexander 985-2485.
On June 24, 2007 three Sullivan Audubon teams set
out to do the 14th annual Butterfly Count for the
North American Butterfly Association. The day started
out cool, only in the high 40’s but did
get to the mid 70’s by early afternoon. Fortunately
the sun was bright and it was a clear day.
Stu and Valerie Alexander covered the western area
of the count circle and identified 17 species. European
Skippers were the butterfly of the day and they found
163 in that area. They had the only Baltimore Checkerspot,
Little Wood Satyr, and Long Dash.
Valerie Freer, Arlene Borko and Mary Collier covered
the eastern part of the count circle and found a total
of 18 species. They had a whopping 222 European Skippers.
They had the only Meadow Fritillary, Compton Tortoiseshell,
Little Glassywing, and Delaware Skippers.
Ruth Shursky and I covered the southern part of the
count circle and ended up finding 16 species. Our butterfly
of the day was the Cabbage White, we found 427 of them.
We had the only Eastern Comma, Black Swallowtail, Great
Spangled Fritillary, Painted Lady, Northern Pearly Eye,
and Silver-spotted Skippers. Amazingly we did not have
any European Skippers!
John Kenney totaled 22 species from Hasbrouck to the Rio Reservoir and Arlene
Borko and I found 17 species from Aden Road to Fir Brook. When all the totals
were compiled 34 species were identified with a total of 889 individuals. The
highest count went to the Cabbage White with 159 being seen that day. Amazingly
it beat out Red Admiral by only 50. Monarchs totaled 39 for the day.
Between all the teams, 96 miles were driven, 3 miles
were walked and a total of 13.5 man hours were put into
this project. It produced 28 species of Butterflies with
a total of 1173 individuals, our highest count ever.
This was also our highest count ever of Monarchs, 22
and 1 egg. It’s a good feeling to know that they
have made a comeback since the freeze a few years ago
that killed many of them in their Mexico wintering grounds.
This fall we will be tagging Monarchs on their southward
migration (see article on Monarch Watch).
The Hall’s Mills butterfly count coordinated
by Stu Alexander was held on July 7th. Four teams racked
up 14.5 hours, 89 miles by car, and 7 miles on foot.
The morning started out at 68 degrees and warmed up to
82 with the sun shinning all day.
Stu and Valerie Alexander along with Randy and Nick
Golemboski found 22 species from Frost Valley to Blue
Russell and Cathy Scheirer found 9 species in the 1
mile that they walked between the New Age Health Spa
For the fourth year, Sullivan Co Audubon sponsored
two very successful “Fourth of July” butterfly
counts. The first one, led by Renee Davis & Valerie
Freer on July 2 in the southern part of the county,
produced 41 species, and the second on July 8 led
by Stu Alexander in the northern part found 36 species.
Four teams took part in each count.
Both counts featured small butterflies called Hairstreaks
this year, as 5 kinds were found on each count including
three not found before on these counts: the Coral
Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak and “Northern” version
of the Southern Hairstreak.
“Fourth of July” butterfly count results are sent to the North American
Butterfly Association which publishes them annually.
see our Warbler
photo by Valerie Freer
The most abundant species found on the July 2 count were
European Skippers (544 individuals), 193 Banded Hairstreaks
were second, and Cabbage Whites third with 183 seen. Some rarer
butterflies found that day included a single Northern Crescent
and one Striped Hairstreak.
European Skippers (231) were also most abundant on the July
8 count, followed by 161 Delaware Skippers and 98 Little Glassywings.
Other interesting species on that count included 19 Canadian
Tiger Swallowtails, 29 Atlantis Fritillaries and 2 Hickory
Participants in the two counts included Stu and Valerie Alexander,
Arlene Borko, Mary Collier, Gordon Czop, Renee Davis, Valerie
Freer, Randy Golemboski, John Haas, Jamie Lo, Russell and
Cathy Scheirer, Ruth Shursky, and Richard and Marilyn Stein.
Sullivan County Butterflies
They’re back! Thank God. This past winter just seemed to hang
in there too long for me; we had more than our fair share of cold. But
give us a few warm days with the sun’s stronger rays and whammo,
there they are, beautiful butterflies! I’ve seen Mourning Cloaks,
Spring Azures, Cabbage Whites, and some that are medium in size, dark
brown and way too fast a flier for me to identify as of yet! I even had
a Question Mark in the greenhouse at Agway in March.
In August of 2003, we started a Butterfly Database for Sullivan County
much like the one used for our bird records. Although not all the past
records have been input as of yet, I’m still working on them. We
already have several hundred records, but I would like to have more.
That’s why I’m asking you to help us out. Throughout this
summer and fall, if you see a butterfly, jot down the name, date, and
location, or call me at 482-5044. If you’re unsure of what it was,
maybe we can figure it out. If not, it will be one of many butterflies
that just plain got away. The Kaufman Focus Guide on Butterflies of North
America is an excellent book that covers all of our butterflies. This
has helped me out tremendously. We have 51 species recorded for Sullivan
Our butterfly count will be on Wednesday, June 29th, with a rain date
of Sunday, July 3rd. This will be our twelfth count; every year we learn
a little more. Call Valerie Freer at 647-5496 and come on out and give
us a hand. It’s a fun day and so much is to be learned about the
butterflies of Sullivan County.
Once again Sullivan Co. Audubon sponsored two “Fourth
of July” butterfly counts–one on July 3rd in the
same circle we use for Christmas Counts, and the second on
July 10 in a circle centered in Halls Mills. Both had good
sunny weather, and were very successful.
The first count was held for the 11th consecutive
year. Four groups of butterfliers found 37 species
altogether, the second highest count we have had
in this circle. The team of Bill Cutler, Scott Graber,
and Beth Barker led with 25 species, which they found
in essentially only three areas: the landfill in
Monticello, the Concord ski hill, and Rubin’s
Farm. A second team consisted of Stu and Valerie
Alexander, Russ Shierer, and Marshall and Nancy Shnider,
who searched the Bashakill and Yankee Lake areas.
They had a great day, adding a Mulberrywing to our
cumulative list. (The Cutler team and the Alexander
team each found five Striped Hairstreaks, another
new species for our butterfly count list.) The Freer/Collier
team went to Rock Hill locations, and they found
a Zabulon Skipper and four Atlantis Fritillaries,
both new butterflies for this count. Ruth Shursky
and Irene Warschauer drove the western part of the
circle where they found a good variety, including
the only two Black Swallowtails of the day.
The following week the Halls Mills count, organized
by Stu Alexander, was held for the second year. Three
teams participated, finding a total of 38 species.
Stu and Valerie Alexander, Susan, Claire and Leo
Sherf, Russell Schierer, and Alex Huncosky and Ashley
made up one team. They had a fabulous day at Frost
Valley, Claryville and Blue Hill, and came up with
a great total of 33 species! Their best butterfly
by far was a Buckeye, a wanderer from the south.
Russell and Cathy Schierer made up another team,
and they searched Wildman Hill, Neversink to New
Age Health Spa to find 17 species, including the
only Striped Hairstreaks for this count. The third
team of Valerie Freer and Phyllis Jones covered Aden
Road to Willowemoc, finding 24 species and contributing
the only Coral Hairstreaks and Black Swallowtails
of the day.
These counts are projects of the North American
Butterfly Association, which publishes the results
from about 500 such counts from around the continent.
Contact one of the leaders if you would like to join
us next year, and check our website (Sullivanaudubon.org)
to see an updated list of butterflies of Sullivan
Warblings, September-October 2004