Count at 80 — and a prediction challenge

Rare skipper on buttonbush, Johnson Pond, near Rt 47, photo by Will Kerling, 6/22/11

We have had a surge of FOYs in the last couple of weeks — two-spotted skipper, mulberry wing, dotted skipper, several Satyrium hairstreaks, and others. (See our log for details). Chip Krilowicz’s dying common wood nymph on 6/20/11 and Will Kerling’s find of our first rare skipper on 6/22/11 pushed our total for the year to 80 species.

It isn’t even July yet, and already you can look ahead over the remaining possibilities and try guessing how many more species we can find this year. (See the NABA Codes & Notes tab on our log for the full list from 2009 and 2010 and our current total for 2011.)

South Jersey hosts a limited number of butterfly species each year (less than 100, it seems), and nearly every one remaining on our not-yet-found possibilities list for 2011 seems “iffy.”

The one remaining certainty (or near certainty) is cloudless sulphur.

Dion skipper is probably the next most likely.

All others on our list from the previous two years will take careful observation and a touch of luck, it seems. The three most pressing species at the moment, as we move from June into July, are probably oak hairstreak, Georgia satyr, and black dash. Each of those should be flying now and is rare enough to be missed easily.

Black dash seems an especially a tough find on the Coastal Plain. In our four years of logging we have had only one record.

Georgia satyr probably outnumbers oak hairstreak and black dash and several other species on the not-yet-seen list, but it’s a Pine Barrens creature most find-able in out-of-the-way wet savannas of the NJPB. Can someone spot one on a Lakehurst trip, where our observers have found the species in previous years?

Oak hairstreak seems a mystery species — found the last couple of years but in very low numbers and unpredictably. No colony is known.

Leonard’s skipper flies in late summer and is a local breeder we missed completely last year. There seems only one known colony in South Jersey, along the Manumuskin River. Let’s find some Leonard’s this year!

Many of the other remaining not-yet-found species are southern strays: Ocola skipper, little yellow, sleepy orange…who knows which of those will wander up this way this year?

We may find something totally unexpected, of course, not on our list at all. That will be a thrill for the finder and the rest of us vicariously as well.

Still, can we match last year’s 93 species this year? Although 2011 has been a very good year so far, we will do well to reach that total again, imho. Bettering that total will require lots of observers persisting in their explorations, a surge of southern strays, two or three totally unexpected species, and a good deal of luck!

You are invited to make your own guess at our final total by clicking on the comment section below. What’s your guess: 90? 93? 95? Higher??

If you want to really show off your prognostication abilities, you can even list those species you believe are still to come in 2011.

Common wood nymph being eaten by praying mantis, Bevan WMA, photo by Chip Krilowicz, 6/20/11

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5 Responses to Count at 80 — and a prediction challenge

  1. Will Kerling says:

    Hi Jack

    My number guess for butterfly species will be 95 and I’m pushing in full gear for 100 species!

  2. Nacote Jack says:

    Go for it, Will!

    Thanks for making the first prediction.

    And I am betting that if we do reach 95, you are the most likely observer to track down that final species!


  3. Sandra Keller says:

    97 – We have many knowledgable observers in the field looking for those
    strays. I am betting on Will and Dave getting them!

  4. Sandra Keller says:

    I think it will be a couple more years of searching and learning before we hit 100. So much out there to learn, like the Edward’s find.

  5. Sandra Keller says:

    I am revising my prediction downward. To 92. We need too many species yet! Cloudless Sulphur, Little Yellow, Sleepy Orange, Leonard’s Skipper. Black Dash might be too late already? Etc. We have Great Spangled and Variagated Frits so far. What about some others like Meadow Frit? I keep trying for that is some areas. Ocolas and Long-tailed Skippers should show up. I am not 100% sure what has been counted already as both Great Spangled Frit and Common Wood-Nymph first dates haven’t been posted yet. I am assuming both species have been counted? I think 100 is possible some year. A good southern stray year, plus we need to learn of some populations of species not known to currently occur in the region. What about Harvester? Baltimore? Good luck all!

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