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First Ever Capital Area Butterfly Survey in 2023

First Ever Capital Area Butterfly Survey in 2023

(by Diane De Luca)

After holding out for wet weather on our scheduled butterfly survey date in late July, the next day was glorious. Cooler temps, bright sun and light winds all made for a perfect day to conduct the first ever Capital Area Butterfly Survey. These surveys are part of a nationwide effort to track butterflies through the North American Butterfly Association, and will provide insight into how habitat and weather changes affect butterfly populations.

Various butterflies seen throughout the survey day (from top left to bottom right: Edward’s Hairstreak, Cabbage White, Silver Spotted Skipper, Crescent, Gray Hairstreak, Black Swallowtail, and Karner Blue). Photos by Becky Suomala and Anita Fernandez.

Five strong teams of 36 participants spread out across the Capital Area to search for butterflies. Collectively we counted 704 individual butterflies of 40 distinct species. There were many highlights for the day and each team returned with stories to share. An unexpected high of 8 Karner Blue butterflies in the protected Conservation Easement, well over 40 Crescent butterflies that flitted through an open area at the Boscawen Town Forest, a surprise Eastern Comma resting in the parking lot, multiple black swallowtails filling a field, and Wild Indigo Duskywings seemingly everywhere. These are just a few of the moments that each team shared.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first ever Capital Area Butterfly Survey. A special thanks to our team leaders: Heidi Holman, Vanessa Johnson, Steve Mirick, Becky Suomala, Mark Suomala and Mike Thomas. Additional thanks to Heidi Holman of New Hampshire Fish and Game for all her leadership and dedication to butterfly conservation here in New Hampshire!