Carolyn McGavock of Parksley recently led a total of 22 Eastern Shore Master Naturalist volunteers in the second annual butterfly count. Counts were taken at the four Natural Area Preserves (NAP) managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Organized into small groups, each with a butterfly expert, a recorder and several spotters, counts were taken at Magothy Bay NAP, Cape Charles NAP, Savage Neck Dunes NAP and, Mutton Hunk Fen NAP, all located on the Virginia Eastern Shore.
By doing annual butterfly counts, the Eastern Shore Master Naturalists will monitor changes in the butterfly species and study the effects of weather and habitat changes on Eastern Shore butterflies.
This year, volunteers saw 27 different butterfly species and a total of 276 individual butterflies. These numbers were up from the 2018 base count. The annual counts are taken in August when the hot weather encourages maximum butterfly activity.
Most butterflies need sunny days with temperatures of at least 80 degrees in order to fly.
To learn more about butterflies and other natural wonders of the Eastern Shore, visit https://masternaturalistesva.com and become a Master Naturalist.