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Edison, Ford Winter Estates opens registration for annual butterfly count

By Staff | Jul 15, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Participants count butterflies at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates during a previous count.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates will participate in the North American Butterfly Association’s 45th annual butterfly count on July 24 from 10 a.m. to noon. Results of the count help researchers monitor butterfly population trends throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as the effects of weather and habitat loss.

Each year, butterflies are observed and counted at about 450 count sites. The counts are tallied and compiled into annual count reports, which are available through NABA and include information about species population size and geographical distribution. Each count site is required to cover a 15-mile diameter circle within one day. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates count includes Lakes Regional Park and Rotary Park to ensure coverage of 15 miles. Spotters may participate at any of the locations.

Last year, participants counted a total of 383 butterflies, and 24 different species were observed. The number was down from the 2018 count, with 531 butterflies. Monarch, Gulf fritillary and white peacock butterflies have been seen most frequently. One team last year saw 78 white peacocks. Some of the other butterflies with significant numbers include the barred yellow, ceraunus blue, dainty sulphur and polydamas swallowtail.

The count offers butterfly enthusiasts a chance to observe different species, practice their identification skills and help scientists monitor butterfly populations. It is also an opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and share information. Many participants have butterfly gardens in their own yards. For anyone wishing to create a butterfly garden, a NABA-certified butterfly demonstration planting is viewable in the Garden Shoppe and both nectar and host plants are available for purchase.

To participate, spotters must register with LWilson@edisonford.org before July 17.

The fee is $5, which covers the fee Edison and Ford Winter Estates pays to NABA.

Experience is helpful, but not required, as groups will include both beginners and seasoned butterfly enthusiasts. Those with less experience can help record data or take photos. Spotters should be prepared to walk outside for at least two hours in hot humid weather. Participants should wear a hat and sunscreen, and bring drinking water.

The total number of participants will be capped at 50 to allow for social distancing. For everyone’s safety, employees will wear masks and all participants will be encouraged to wear masks.