Thursday, June 23, 2011

Help Count Butterflies! This weekend and throughout the summer

The 37th annual North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Butterfly Count is underway! These annual counts are a lot of fun but are also important ways to track the butterfly populations of North America. Tracking butterflies, and other wildlife, are great ways to help determine the impact of both good and bad landscaping practices.

During the Butterfly Count, volunteers conduct a one-day census of all butterflies sighted within a specified area. Local butterfly groups and other wildlife experts generally help facilitate the counts.

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) organizes the counts and publishes their annual reports. These reports provide important information about the geographical distributions and population sizes of the species counted. .

No matter how much or how little butterfly watching you've done, the results of butterfly counting can be surprising and interesting. There are several counts being conducted in the DC/VA/MD area this summer.
  • Western Montgomery County is having theirs this weekend. (See below)
  • The Reston, VA count will be Saturday, July 2 from 9:30 AM to 12:45 PM. It will meet at the Walker Nature Education Center, located at 11450 Glade Drive. Please email: or call 703-476-9689 and press 5 to sign up. There will be an introductory class on Thursday, June 30 from 7:00-8:30 PM also at the nature center. Reservations are required by June 27. It is free for count participants or $5 per person for those not participating in the count.
  • Richmond Counts will be on July 9th - email for more info
  • West Anne Arundel County July 9th - email
  • Loudon Wildlife Conservancy is having theirs on August 6, 2011.
Use this map to find the dates and locations for more counts in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Please considering joining one of them for a day of fascinating butterfly counting.

For more information on the count program, please consult NABA's website at

To learn more about local butterflies, see our pages on: Butterflies of DC, Butterflies of Maryland, and Butterflies of Virginia

And to do your part to help INCREASE the number of butterflies in the area for next year's count, read : Create a Butterfly Garden

Western Montgomery County Butterfly Count
  • Who: No experience is necessary, and young (ages 12 and up) to old are invited to come out and have fun while contributing to butterfly study and conservation. Teams will be formed with at least one person skilled in butterfly identification who will head up the team. We encourage you to count for at least a couple of hours, but you don’t need to commit to a full day.
  • When: Saturday, June 25 Meet at 9:00 am outside the Visitors' Center at Black Hill Regional Park in Boyds, MD; or near the impoundments at Hughes Hollow (McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area) near Poolesville, MD
  • Where: The count circle includes several natural areas in western Montgomery County,including Little Bennett and Black Hill Regional Parks; Sugarloaf Mountain, Seneca Creek State Park; some areas along the C&O Canal.
  • Counting fee: $3 for ages 12 and older. (Not for children under age 12, given heat, open sun, and tall vegetation.) This fee is passed along to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) to cover the costs of coordinating the counts and compiling the data.
  • Equipment: Wear comfortable field clothing, remembering the seasonal realities of a hot sun in open meadows, poison ivy, ticks, and the possibility of biting insects. Bring lots of water, lunch and a pocket note pad, as well as a butterfly field guide and binoculars, if you have them. Cameras and insect nets are optional. Any netting of insects will be “catch and release” for identification only.
  • Please contact: Stephanie Mason, 301-652-9188, Ext. 37 or if you plan to participate or have any questions. The Audubon Naturalist Society organizes this local count, which is part of the 37-year national count sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association and the Xerces Society.

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