Butterflies are widely recognized as important components of natural ecosystems. Adults can be important pollinators, larvae can be major herbivores, and all life stages provide food to other wildlife species. Many are specialists on one or a few host plants, and in this context can serve as indicators of environmental change. But while many species of butterflies have been recorded in New Hampshire, the actual status of most species is unknown.
Most conservation work on butterflies in the state has focused on pine barrens species such as the Karner Blue, or the endemic butterflies of the Presidential Range, with little to no effort directed at the remainder – many of which may be equally rare. In 2013, NH Audubon completed a comprehensive summary of available data on butterfly distributions in the state in order to complete the necessary first step toward the prioritization of future conservation activity directed at this group of insects (see the archived project Butterfly Data Compilation).
NHA is currently seeking funding for a five-year statewide butterfly survey in New Hampshire. This project would be similar in structure to the recently completed New Hampshire Dragonfly Survey. If you have records of butterflies you have seen in New Hampshire, consider entering them on eButterfly, an international, data driven project dedicated to butterfly biodiversity, conservation and education (www.ebutterfly.ca). New Hampshire is currently a “hole” in the knowledge of butterfly distribution in New England and neighboring Canada. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont have all completed multi-year butterfly survey projects, and two additional survey efforts are currently underway in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. A multi-year butterfly survey effort in New Hampshire would not only result in a more complete baseline data for the state but would complete the regional snapshot of butterfly numbers, distribution and species status for New England and beyond.
Project Leader: Vanessa Jones