Sunday, June 27, 2010
Chilly winds blew no harm, it seems! by Elane Nuehring
In 2009's winter and 2010's early spring, we saw unusual dips in temperature and we worried about the butterflies and their host plants. In a few cases, in natural areas, wild fires created even more damage to butterflies and plants. Then the rains came and summer's steamy heat ensured ... and WOW, the butterflies are back! Our butterfly gardens are buzzing. Rarities like Bartram's Scrub Hairstreak, which were nowhere to be found in April, are, for them, out and about in in good numbers. The NABA summer counts, held in June and July, have so far produced exceptionally good numbers of species. On June 26, 2010, the Deering Estate at Cutler was hopping with specialties such as Dina Yellows, Ruddy Daggerwings, and Dingy Purplewings. Earlier in the month, on June 19, Loop Road was great. Our Miami Blue Chapter monthly survey of Tamiami Pineland Addition has produced swarms of Southern Skipperlings and Ceraunus Blues, along with Variegated Fritillaries (not usual in heavily developed areas) and an American Lady.
So why all this abundance of butterflies after the severest winter in many a year in South Florida? Maybe the cold inhibited some problem predators and/or parasitoids? Maybe the cold somehow boosted plant production and lots of new growth once rain and heat returned. Whatever the reasons, 2010 seems to have been a banner year for many species....although the Atalas are still among the missing or near-missing in many of their usual haunts, Miami Blues at Bahia Honda State Park are not being seen, and the Florida Leafwing, holding out at Everglades National Park, continues to be scarce.
Let us know what you're seeing in your gardens and on your rambles!