Field of Science

Good year for butterflies

Although this wasn't the best year for plants, butterflies had a pretty good year based upon their numbers and diversity. The tiger swallowtail is the largest, gaudiest butterfly regularly seen in this area. Several of these big butterflies can often be seen in the late afternoon and early evening flying in spirals in the corner of our side yard against a back drop of spruce and tulip tree. Some of the less common species that were more abundant this year were the buckeye and spice bush butterflies. Strangely, red admirals and painted ladies, our most common species in many years, are much less common this year, but populations of small organisms often oscillate over years. Of course, having a big diverse perennial garden, and diverse species flowering throughout the year, a total nearing 270 at mid-September, is certainly beneficial to nectar feeding critters of all sorts. On other fronts, cicadas often make early September a noisy time in the yard, but it's strangely quiet this year for some reason.

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