Thursday, May 7, 2015

Butterfly Magic

Laurie Sheppard is a volunteer at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge who loves butterflies; Laurie and garden docents will be on hand at the Refuge from 3 - 4:30 pm on Mother's Day to help visitors identify any butterflies that come into the new Butterfly Garden.   Some folks may not realize the number of butterfly species that might be seen at Hagerman; Laurie is working on a species list for the Refuge and is now up to 63 species confirmed by  Butterfly and Moths of North America.  Here is her account of a recent visit to Hagerman, along with photos.

"I went out to the refuge last weekend to concentrate on butterflies.  The highlight of the visit was that there had been a mass hatch of Question Marks.  There was one spot on Sandy Point Road where it was almost magical, with 30-40 Question Marks flying around me.  

The photos shown below illustrate the differences between a summer hatched Question Mark (center photo) and one that wintered over and is ragged and thin (top photo).  Summer hatch Question Marks have a dark hindwing and more detailed underside (bottom photo) compared to those hatched in the fall.

Here is Laurie's species list for the day. She says, "  I did not count actual numbers of each, but I did try to estimate."
Monarch - 1
Hackberry Emperor - 4
Gray Hairstreak - 1
Eastern Tailed-blue - 1
Orange Sulphur - 50+
Clouded Sulphur - 1
Cloudless Sulphur - 2
Dainty Sulphur - 3
Checkered White - 8
Question Mark - 50
Little Wood-satyr - 10
Funereal Duskywing - 1
Clouded Skipper - 2
Pearl Crescent - 1
Phaon Crescent - 1
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - 3
Black Swallowtail - 6
Variegated Fritillary - 1
Common Buckeye - 2
Viceroy - 1

Guided walks through the Butterfly Garden at the Refuge will be held at 10 am on the third Saturday of each month, May through October, weather permitting.  On June 20, the walk will be held in conjunction with the Grand Opening for the garden.  Get ready for the magic!

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