WDEL Blog: Eclectic Hobbies with Allan Loudell

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails swamp annual northern Delaware Butterfly census!

Members of the Delaware Nature Society - and other naturalists - joined me in conducting our annual butterfly census for NABA, the North American Butterfly Association.

Because of other commitments, we conducted the 2010 census a few weeks later than usual.

Consequently, Delaware's official state butterfly -- the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail -- dominated our count, with 488 individuals. The second most prevalent species was the Pearl Crescent, with 108 individuals counted. In third place, the ubiquitous Cabbage White.

We counted individuals at various locations around Newark, Christiana, and White Clay Creek state park; another group handled locations further north near the Nature Center itself.

Over years, such counts can give us some indication as to whether particular species are declining, or holding their own in the face of habitat completion, spraying of insecticides, climate change, etc.

Here's the species count:

9 -- BLACK SWALLOWTAIL
488 -- EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAIL
20 -- SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL
87 -- CABBAGE WHITE
25 -- CLOUDED SULPHUR
14 -- ORANGE SULPHUR
1 -- AMERICAN COPPER
1 -- RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK
1 -- GRAY HAIRSTREAK
25 -- EASTERN TAILED-BLUE
4 -- SUMMER AZURE
14 -- VARIEGATED FRITILLARY
1 -- GREAT SPANGLED FRITILLARY
108 -- PEARL CRESCENT
4 -- EASTERN COMMA
1 -- AMERICAN LADY
17 -- RED ADMIRAL
18 -- COMMON BUCKEYE
4 -- RED-SPOTTED ADMIRAL (PURPLE)
15 -- VICEROY
3 -- APPALACHIAN BROWN
1 -- LITTLE WOOD SATYR
5 -- COMMON WOOD NYMPH
60 -- MONARCH
52 -- SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER
11 -- LEAST SKIPPER
2 -- TAWNY-EDGED SKIPPER
9 -- WILD INDIGO DUSKYWING
1 -- CROSSLINE SKIPPER
1 -- SWARTHY SKIPPER
23 -- PECK's SKIPPER
2 -- LITTLE GLASSYWING
6 -- DUN SKIPPER
37 -- ZABULON SKIPPER
6 -- BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER

No dramatic surprises on the above list. Nothing really exotic. But a good showing for some of the creatures many take for granted!

Credit to all who took part, including: Jim & Amy White (Delaware's amphibian/reptile experts, by the way!); Sally O'Byrne; Sheila Vincent; & Derek Stoner

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While filling my car at a service station on Route 273 just east of Route 1, I observed a Polyphemus Moth flying about, kamikaze style.

One of our biggest North American moths, it was good to see one in such a built-up area.

(Populations of most of the giant silk moths have crashed in many urban areas. Nighttime lights disrupt mating. These moths have about a week to mate, and deposit eggs!)

This gigantic moth gets its name from the legendary Cyclops of the same name from Homer's Odyssey, a reference to the lower eye-spots.


Posted at 10:58am on August 6, 2010 by Allan Loudell

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