Skipper Numbers Down on Annual Petroglyphs Butterfly Count
On Saturday July 18, 2015 twenty butterfly enthusiasts conducted the Annual Petroglyphs Butterfly Count under the direction of compiler Jerry Ball. This annual count covers an area in the northern section of Peterborough County contained within a circle with a diameter of 24 kilometers extending from the north shore of Stoney Lake to County Road 504 in the Apsley area and from Highway 28 on the west to County Road 46 on the east. The participants were divided into seven field parties, with each party covering a different part of the count circle.
According to Jerry Ball, the compiler, a total of 53 species of adult butterflies were observed. Only caterpillars were observed for another species, the American Lady. The number of species recorded is the same as recorded for the past two years. However the number of individuals this year were down significantly from previous years, to a total of 2157 adults and 7 caterpillars.
For example there were 431 Dun Skippers observed this year. This contrasts with 2,000 on the 2012 count and 2,760 on the 2013 count. Last year the number dropped to 863. Jerry Ball feels that the frost on the night of May 22-23 had a major impact on the caterpillars of this species and other butterflies. The frost not only damaged many plants it would have killed many caterpillars. Similar declines were recorded for other species of butterflies.
Since there are less adults to lay eggs for next year’s generation, next year’s count will give an indication if populations are starting to recover from this year’s late frost.
For some other species such as the three species of fritillaries observed, the Great Spangled, Aphrodite and Atlantis the numbers of adults observed were similar to the numbers observed over the previous three counts.
The number of Monarch butterflies also declined from last year. The late May frost would have not impacted their numbers since they were still migrating northwards to Ontario. Numbers of this species have been declining across the continent and wintering populations in Mexico have declined significantly. There are efforts going on across the continent to aid in the recovery of Monarch populations. A total 25 adults and 2 caterpillars were spotted. Last year 62 were observed and in 2012 there were 301 adults. In 2013 only 7 adults were recorded.
Total count results:
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (19)
Whites & Sulphurs
Mustard White (12), Cabbage White (28), Clouded Sulphur (154), Orange Sulphur (2), Pink-edged Sulphur (12)
Coppers, Hairstreaks and Blues
Bronze Copper (1), Bog Copper (3), Acadian Hairstreak (29), Coral Hairstreak (69), Banded Hairstreak (22), Hickory Hairstreak (2), Edward’s Hairstreak (7), Striped Hairstreak (6), Grey Hairstreak (4), Summer Azure (47)
Great Spangled Fritillary (69), Aphrodite Fritillary (51), Atlantis Fritillary (2), Silver-bordered Fritillary (1), Pearl Crescent (12), Northern Crescent (202), Question mark (1), Eastern Comma (6), Grey Comma (3), Mourning Cloak (1), American Painted Lady (19), Painted Lady (1), Red Admiral (11), White Admiral (23), Viceroy (1), Monarch (25), Northern Pearly-eye (24), Eyed Brown (75),Appalachian Brown (1), Little Wood-Satyr (3), Common Wood-Nymph (19)
Columbine Duskywing (107), Delaware Skipper (47), Least Skipper (45), European Skipper (152), Peck’s Skipper (8)Tawny-edged Skipper (8), Crossline Skipper (7), Long Dash Skipper (8), Northern Broken-Dash (12), Little Glassywing (25), Hobomok Skipper (1), Mulberry Wing (102), Broad-winged Skipper (156), Dion Skipper (23), Two-spotted Skipper (4), Dun Skipper (431)
Hairsteak species (4), Large Fritillary species (27), Sulphur species (9), Crescent species (1), Skipper species (13
Monarch (5), American Lady (2)
By Martin Parker and Jerry Ball