Durham NABA Count – August 17, 2014


As has been widely reported across the southeastern US, butterfly numbers are dramatically reduced in 2014 in many areas. Results of the 15th Annual NABA Durham Butterfly Count support that trend. Although wet/dewy vegetation and cloudy conditions made for a slow start to the 2014 Durham Count, nine butterfliers persisted and cumulatively tallied 54 species (average=56) composed of 1433 individuals, drastically below our average number of 3726 individuals! Late spring hard freezes seem to be the prevailing theory for depressed numbers in our area.

Brian Bockhahn’s party found the most species of the day (41) including a Great Purple Hairstreak (only the second time for this count). Amazingly, two parties (Bockhahn and Stickney) found a single Harvester each, only the second time for that species on this count. Jeff Pippen’s party found the most individuals (454) and only the second ever Long-tailed Skipper. While we had no terrible “misses”, we also set no record-high counts for any species, and we had too many record or near record low species’ counts to mention. Our avearge # of individuals per party hour was 49 (an all time low). This count averages 120 individual butterflies seen per party hour. While it’s a bummer to not see as many butterflies as usual, it’s great to have some real data that support the various casual and anecdotal observations that “butterfly numbers seem down this year.” Fortunately, insects lay hundreds to thousands of eggs per pair, hence they have a strong capacity to rebound after setbacks by such factors as unusually rough weather. I expect numbers to bounce back up for most species in the next couple of seasons.

Many thanks to all participants who helped with the Count this year: Brian Bockhahn, Randy Emmitt, Owen McConnel, Tom Krakauer, Salman Abdulali, Harry LeGrand, Jeffrey Pippen, Kelly Mieszkalski, and Richard Stickney.

Here are our results for the Durham Butterfly Count, 17 Aug 2014:

4 Pipevine Swallowtail
13 Black Swallowtail
24 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
33 Spicebush Swallowtail
12 Cabbage White
2 Orange Sulphur
85 Cloudless Sulphur
48 Sleepy Orange
2 Harvester
1 Great Purple Hairstreak
17 Gray Hairstreak
107 Eastern Tailed-Blue
62 Summer Azure
1 American Snout
9 Variegated Fritillary
1 Great Spangled Fritillary
99 Pearl Crescent
3 Question Mark
4 Eastern Comma
5 American Lady
5 Painted Lady
15 Red Admiral
66 Common Buckeye
21 Red-spotted Purple
3 Viceroy
12 Hackberry Emperor
4 Tawny Emperor
10 Northern Pearly-eye
1 Appalachian Brown
1 Gemmed Satyr
77 Carolina Satyr
9 Common Wood-Nymph
20 Monarch   http://www.jeffpippen.com/butterflies/monarch.htm
225 Silver-spotted Skipper
1 Long-tailed Skipper
11 Hoary Edge
2 Southern Cloudywing
18 Horace’s Duskywing
1 Zarucco Duskywing   http://www.jeffpippen.com/butterflies/zaruccoduskywing.htm
1 Wild Indigo Duskywing   http://www.jeffpippen.com/butterflies/wildindigoduskywing.htm
3 Com. Checkered-Skipper
17 Swarthy Skipper
41 Clouded Skipper
5 Least Skipper
80 Fiery Skipper
5 Crossline Skipper
20 Southern Broken-Dash
1 Northern Broken-Dash
41 Little Glassywing
102 Sachem
4 Delaware Skipper
50 Zabulon Skipper
5 Dun Skipper
24 Ocola Skipper

For more info about the Durham Count, including data from all years, go here:

Good Butterflying!

Jeffrey S. Pippen
Durham, NC