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Categorized | Outdoors

Allegan State Game Area Butterfly Count 


By Ranger Steve Mueller


A heat wave settled over the region with sunny skies and little wind. It was 81ºF when we began at 9 a.m. from the Allegan State Game Area Headquarters and 91ºF when we finished the count at 4:30 p.m. Eight participants paced activity and stayed well hydrated as we roamed to selected sites within the 7.5 mile radius count circle.

Oak savanna, marsh, swamp, river, field and forest habitat nature niches were explored in search of butterflies tied to specific plant species. Each species has specific plant requirements essential for larval development. Adults nectar for sugar solution at a variety of flowers. It appears we were a week early for some anticipated species. We saw 312 adults. A total of 32 species were flying (Table 1) and three larval species were found feeding on host plants. Silver-spotted skipper on black locust, spicebush swallowtail on sassafras, and viceroy on willow were munching their way to adulthood. 

A cold spring delayed butterfly activity early in the season. Several species are double brooded and the second brood should begin flight around the beginning of July. The delayed spring activity might be a reason some species were in fewer numbers than expected but we did well for the total species count. 

Consider joining the 2019 counts next July for the Allegan, Rogue River, Muskegon State Game Area counts as well as the Manistee National Forest count near Newaygo. Email me to be included on the contact list for next year’s dates. 

Visit the West Michigan Butterfly Association (WMBA) Web Site [http://graud.org/wmba.html] to see the results for the 2018 counts. Hopefully, all counts will be posted by August. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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