Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 16, 2012 Butterfly Monitoring

The winds were calm and the sun was bright with clear skies.  We have had extremely dry weather the past month. Without the rain, there is very little flora blooming.  The freshwater marsh appeared very dry - no water was visible behind the tall grasses.  
Few butterfiles were spotted this morning, but among them were the Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) nectaring on the few gallardia blooms that are planted near the kiosk overlooking the freshwater marsh along the yellow trail, in our Transect B.  
We usually see the Gulf Fritillary, (Agraulis vanillae) not the Variegated. 
Variegated Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary
Eastern Pygmy Blues (Brephidium pseudofeawere seen at the Salicornia Transect C.   
This is our smallest butterfly.  One of the blues with a wing span less than one inch.
Eastern Pygmy Blue
The Miami Blue Butterfly (Hemiargus [Cyclargus] thomasi bethunebakerihas), reduced to a few hundred survivors on isolated islands off Key West, was formally declared a federally endangered species on April 6, 2012.
We have not seen a Miami Blue within the GTM NERR Butterfly Monitoring transects, in the three years of our surveys.  
Once common in the southern coastal areas of Florida, the Miami Blue butterfly was eliminated from much of its former range due to ever-expanding urbanization and the associated loss of coastal habitat. In the years following Hurricane Andrew, researchers feared that the butterfly may have become extinct as no verified sightings were recorded. Fortunately, the Miami Blue was rediscovered on November 29, 1999, as part of a small population of less than 100 individuals within the boundaries of Bahia Honda State Park in the Lower Florida Keys. 
Miami Blue
Miami Blue
The Great Southern White (Ascia monuste) has been plentiful this week in the Coastal strand and dunes; and a few of them were also here by the Estuary and the Upland hammock in our four transects.  The Great Southern White has distinctive turquoise antennae clubs.  Spanish needleis a favorite nectar plant 

Great Southern White

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