Results of the 15th Annual Sewanee butterfly count

Number of species detected: 24 (a little lower than most years)

Number of individuals detected: 414 (way higher than most years)

Average temp: also approx 414

We found almost no butterflies over the majority of the areas surveyed. It is much too dry and baking. But in areas that had been irrigated or that were near bodies of water, we found impressive aggregations of butterflies supping on nectar. By far the most abundant species was the sachem (Atalopedes campestris). We saw 213 of these little skippers; the previous record for the species was 26 in 2001. This species thrives in disturbed areas where its caterpillars feed on grass.

Female sachem (photo from a previous year)

We also came across this spectacular pipevine swallowtail (judging from its freshness, it was newly emerged from its chrysalis):

Thank you to my co-leader, David Coe, and to brave heat-defying participants Louise Kennedy and Tam Parker.

Complete results are summarized below:

Common name Scientific name 2012 count
Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor 2
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus 1
Spicebush Swallowtail Papilio troilus 4
Cabbage White Pieris rapae 13
Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme 7
Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus 1
Red-banded Hairstreak Calycopis cecrops 4
Eastern Tailed-Blue Everes comyntas 47
Spring Azure Celastrina ladon 5
American Snout Libytheana carinenta 5
Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae 3
Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia 6
Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele 1
Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos 7
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis 4
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta 1
Common Buckeye Junonia coenia 1
Common Wood-Nymph Cercyonis pegala 1
Silver-spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus 74
Horace’s Duskywing Erynnis horatius 1
Least Skipper Ancyloxypha numitor 2
Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus 10
Little Glassywing Pompeius verna 1
Sachem Atalopedes campestris 213

6 thoughts on “Results of the 15th Annual Sewanee butterfly count

  1. Kat Z.

    Exquisite and thought-provoking. Kudos to you four naturalists for doing this, and for posting the data and brilliant photographs. Thank you.


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