Friday, August 31, 2018

Butterfly surveys 2018

August and September are hot and humid months. Some things still get us to go outdoors. Early bird migration is going by us. Barn Swallows are streaming south. Prairie Warblers are bouncing through the wax myrtles heading south. There are always a few surprises to be on the lookout for outside.

We know about birds. But, what about butterflies? Did you know that Gulf Fritillaries, the orange spangled winged butterfly migrates? Christa Hayes is our coastal butterfly guru. She wants to find out more about these butterflies. This year I have joined a group of volunteers to monitor butterfly migration. Yes, butterflies migrate. I am still learning.

We are watching for three butterfly species: Gulf Fritillary,

Gulf Fritillary flying to fleabane

monarch on fleabane
and Cloudless Sulfur.  Jekyll Island Authority’s Wildlife Manager, Joseph Colbert has assigned me to the marsh. No, don’t worry! I am not slogging through mud. 

Butterfly survey plot
Latham hammock is a marsh island near Jekyll Island. In fact, it is part of the Jekyll Island Causeway. This hammock is where my survey points are located. The survey is relatively simple. At my survey point, I face east for ten minutes and count the number of the three species that are fluttering south, then I face west and count butterflies for 10 minutes.
There are other butterflies to learn. Here is a Palamedes swallowtail  not on the survey list but isn't it beautiful
 In 2000 and 2001, I helped with a marsh project for the Savannah Wildlife Refuge. I learned so much about the different kinds of marshes. The marsh is always surprising me, so I look forward to learning even more about this salt marsh and the creatures that make it their home. 

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