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home : education : schools September 15, 2014

7/16/2013 1:04:00 PM
Kids all a-flutter on butterfly count
Elia Georgeton of Bend having her first close-up look at a variable checkerspot while helping with the annual Metolius NABA Butterfly Count. photo by Sue Anderson
+ click to enlarge
Elia Georgeton of Bend having her first close-up look at a variable checkerspot while helping with the annual Metolius NABA Butterfly Count. photo by Sue Anderson

By Jim Anderson

Last Friday, lots of home-schoolers and their parents had the opportunity to experience an up-close-and-personal look at Sisters Country's pale tigers and other butterflies.

Seventeen adults and 17 children from Bend and beyond took part in the annual North American Butterfly Association (NABA) count held within an area that included Green Ridge, Prairie Farm, the Round Lake road and the Metolius River.

Several NABA members from Eugene also participated to help butterfly expert Sue Anderson of Sisters conduct the count.

The North American Butterfly Association formed in 1992 is by far the largest group of people interested in butterflies. The butterfly count is an ongoing program of NABA to census the butterflies of North America (United States, Canada and part of Mexico) and to publish the results. Volunteer participants select a count area with a 15-mile diameter and conduct a one-day census of all butterflies sighted within that circle.

The group split up as they left the Sisters Ranger Station starting point, the Eugene counters heading for the meadows and seeps west of the Metolius, and all the kids and parents heading up Green Ridge.

Sightings were few to start with, but after the air temperature warmed to over 60 degrees, the butterflies started making their appearance. The stop at Whiskey Springs brought lots of "Look, there's a Lorquins admiral! Oh, there's a pale tiger swallowtail! Hurry! There's another sulfur!"

The day of butterfly counting had begun.

With enthusiastic children combing the various habitats, the butterfly numbers began to add up. Variable checkerspots, Lorquin's admirals, and Anna's blues topped the list. Other less plentiful species such as a large marble, small woodnymph, and California hairstreak were harder to find but were nonetheless prize sightings. A roadside skipper found by Dennis Deck of Portland had never before been recorded on the count in its 24-year history.

At the end of the count with the compilation taking place over a picnic at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, the happy butterfliers had the names and photos of 46 species, representing more than 988 individual butterflies.

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