Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Silver Bluff Butterflies

The May 19th field trip to Silver Bluff Sanctuary was attended by 10 people, including 3 experts in butterflies who came from Charleston to survey the butterflies in Aiken County. They taught us a lot and we found several butterflies not previously recorded on the sanctuary.

Since this was both a bird and butterfly trip, we counted both as well as dragonflies. For the day we recorded 48 species of birds. including two immature Bald Eagles who were flying over the ponds. We also saw an Osprey, Spotted Sandpiper, Summer Tanagers, Orchard Orioles, Red-headed Woodpeckers, soaring Anhinga, and heard Acadian Flycatchers and Prothonotary Warbler. During the day, we found and identified 7 species of dragonflies, including Golden-winged Skimmers and Calico Pennants. An alligator also was seen swimming across the pond.

However, the real focus of the day was looking for butterflies. In all we found 30 different species. Many of them were the small skippers and hairstreaks, which are hard to identify, so it was good to have the help of the experts. I certainly learned a lot. In addition to this, a local couple brought a cage of Painted Lady Butterflies they had raised from eggs to release at the sanctuary so that was interesting.

These are the butterflies we saw: Gray Hairstreak, Least Skipper, Buckeye, Variegated Fritillary, Am. Painted Lady, Crossline Skipper, Common/White Checkered Skipper, N. Broken Dash, Whirlabout, Southern Cloudywing, Hoary Edge, Red-spotted Purple, Snout, Horace's Duskywing, Pearl Crescent, Hackberry Emperor, Zebra Swallowtail, Carolina Satyr, Cloudless Sulfur, Eastern Tailed Blue, Oak Hairstreak, Silver-spotted Skipper, Appalachian Brown, Southern Pearly Eye, Creole Pearly Eye, Question Mark, Swarthy Skipper, Palomedes Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail. In addition we found evidence of the Giant Yucca Skipper in the yuccas on the sanctuary. It was a woody tube down into the heart of the yucca where the caterpillar feeds on the roots. The butterfly comes out in Feb. or March, so next year we know where to look for it.

This was an interesting field trip. Come join us next time.
Anne Waters.

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