2020 Butterfly Checklist Update

Sullivan County Butterflies

Wow, what a year 2019 was for butterflies in Sullivan County.

Common Buckeye
photo © Rene Davis.
The year started off with a wet and cold spring which set back many species. Many overwintering adults, eggs and pupa were drowned out with the rain, lack of warm days when nectaring was available took its toll on the adults too. It took much of the spring for many species to get back on track and some well into the summer. Some species had to repopulate by the ones in the south coming north.

Our first Cabbage White did not show up till May 11. In other years we have had them as early as March 22. Spring might have not been the best but summer and fall sure made up for it. Our first Monarchs showed up the first week of June and were beaten out by Eastern Comma for being the last butterfly of the season. The last Monarch was on November 1 and an Eastern Comma was seen on November 2. Monarchs had a terrific season and it was good to see them everywhere again. Pray they continue their recovery.

You will find in the Spring 2020 issue of Warblings a new butterfly checklist that was made this winter. We now have 82 species on our list. Since our last printing in 2017, we have added 6 new species.

Black Dash
photo © Rene Davis.

Most of them were those darn little skippers. They are a family of butterflies which might be compared to sparrows to the untrained eye, LBJs, little brown jobs. I set my goal to study these "little wonders" knowing that there are many listed in butterfly books that should be in Sullivan but we have never had anyone report them. I came up with four of them, Sachem, Zabulon, Black Dash, and Ocola Skipper. I researched what habitat they should be found in and what their larval foodplant is. I spent many hours walking the roads and photographing many individuals. I find the best way is to take a thousand pictures and identify them later. 

The Gray Comma got sick of me looking for it so it flew to my yard and went straight to my butterfly feeder. "Maybe she'll see me here" it thought, and luckily I was paying attention and was able to get some great pictures of it.

American Snout Butterfly, photo © Carolyn Summers
American Snout Butterfly.
photo © Carolyn Summers.
Click photo to enlarge 

Carolyn Summers contacted me in August and said she had an interesting butterfly, an American Snout! This is a southern butterfly that migrates north in the summer and then migrates, sometimes in huge numbers, south for the winter. I call it the Jimmy Durante butterfly because of its long snout! Its larval foodplant is Hackberry trees. I had been looking for a snout all summer and could not find any hackberry trees in Sullivan. I contacted the NYSDEC and local NYS forest rangers but they could not help me either. I also contacted some loggers in the area but no one could direct me to Hackberries. Fortunately, Carolyn saved the day. She was paying attention and got a picture before it disappeared. Number six for our new species list!

I hope you'll enjoy the new checklist and try to add new species to it. Since some species are very difficult to identify I am requiring photos, that takes all the guessing out of it. Photographic proof and no hard feelings. Now get out there and try to check off all the butterflies on our list!

Kathy Scullion