Friday, June 11, 2010

Annual Butterfly Count

Although it has been going on for 34 years, we have only been counting each of the last 13 years. Our latest count, on Friday June 4 included myself and 7 others; (left to right: Jerry Powell, Chris Tenney, David and Jane Stye, Amber Hasselbring, Liam O’Brien, and Paul Johnson). Jerry divided us up into teams. Paul and the Styers went up Chew’s Ridge along the Tassaja Road, to the astronomy observatory. Liam, Amber and Chris headed east to Arroyo Seco, and up to the USFS campground, counting all along the way. Jerry and I walked from the top of the Arnold Road, to the entrance gate at Hastings. Then Jerry and I hiked up School Hill and walked down Robertson Creek from the east boundary of Hastings.

At 5 pm, we gathered at the picnic tables under the large plaque oak to assembled the data sheet. This count and the one in 2008 were done in early June. The results (click here) are pretty similar, but the years were very different (dry, wet). Given the large habitat we sampled, it was possible to find wet areas, or dry areas and eventually find most of the species. A few were only found in 2008, or 2010.

Chris Tenney has found some interesting variation in the dogface butterflies (click here). The Arroyo Seco population has very dark orange males (left), those in Carmel Valley are very light, and the ones in southern California are yellow (right). Not sure what it means, but it does give an idea of how variable local populations can be in butterflies.