August 2013 was another very good month for butterflying in South Jersey.
We found 61 species during the month (one more than last August’s good count of 60). We also totaled 3680+ reports, topping last August’s excellent total of 3300+ and also topping all previous months of our log. In other words, we logged more reports last month than we have ever compiled before in any single month.
Here comes a lower number, but it may be another record total for us. We found and reported the non-adult stages of nine species in one month:
pipevine swallowtail (all three early stages reported: eggs, cats, chrysalis)
black swallowtail (ditto, all three non-adult stages reported)
tiger swallowtail (eggs and cats reported)
spicebush swallowtail (cats and chrysalis)
cloudless sulphur (eggs reported)
variegated fritillary (cat)
red-spotted purple (cat)
monarch (cats and chrysalis)
(NABA’s American Butterflies magazine has announced a photo project intended to document the caterpillar food plants of all North American species. See the Spring 2013 issue for details. And please keep reporting the non-adults you see in our area.)
Five swallowtail species were recorded as adults during the month. Our three most numerous species — black, tiger, and spicebush — were still widely reported in August, although most individuals were showing wear and tear by the end of the month. Tiger swallowtail continued its superb year with 290 reports of 900+ individuals for the month. Spicebush swallowtails were even more numerous than tigers in August: 249 reports of 1400+ individuals. We also had 11 reports of adult pipevine swallowtails (of 16 individuals) and 7 reports of non-adult stages. Finally, in the last few days of the month, we had three reports of giant swallowtail, which signaled what seems a mini-invasion of the species into South Jersey that has continued through the first week of September.
Cloudless sulphur, one of those butterflies that seem to evoke August and September in southern New Jersey, had a solidly-respectable month with 106 reports of 330+ individuals in the month. Sachem, another species that evokes late-summer/early fall, had been having a ho-hum year in 2013, but high counts toward the end of the month suggest the fall brood of the species may be about to take over butterfly-gathering places as it does most Septembers.
Sachem was not one of the top two skippers for the month, however. Can you guess the two most common skippers of August 2013? If you can name them both, you are one of those observers who are out in the field most regularly and sharply alert to our ever-changing populations.
One of the two is silver-spotted skipper, which is probably not a surprise: we had 212 reports, with a total of 1200+ individuals. But did you guess the other species? It is zabulon skipper which surpassed silver spotted with 218 reports and almost matched it in individual totals with 1100+ individuals reported (nearly double the zab total for August 2012).
Eastern tailed-blue and summer azure were the most common lycaenids, as usual in August, followed closely by red-banded hairstreak, and all three were among our top ten most-reported species (see below).
The most-reported nymphalid for the month does not usually lead its group: red-spotted purple with 101 reports, ~225 individuals. Our three Vanessa species — American lady, painted lady, and red admiral — were in low numbers through the month, as they have been most of the year. The totals for common buckeye (76 reports, ~214 individuals) were down from August 2012 (89 reports, ~356 individuals).
Monarch numbers, which have been very low in a down year for the species, picked up just a little: 127 reports, 300+ individuals for the month. They are still below average for the month (in August 2012 we had 219 reports and 780+ individuals).
Our ten most-frequently-reported species for the month:
eastern tiger swallowtail (290 reports, ~905 individuals)
cabbage white (280 reports, ~1395 estimated individuals)
spicebush swallowtail (248 reports, ~1412 individuals)
zabulon skipper (218 reports, 1116 individuals)
silver-spotted skipper (212 reports, ~1219 individuals)
eastern-tailed blue (141, ~581)
summer azure (125, ~252)
sachem (119, ~452)
black swallowtail (116, ~265)
red-banded hairstreak (107, ~336)
Eight species with fewest reports:
giant swallowtail, 3
Appalachian brown, 3
checkered white, 2
clouded skipper, 2
sleepy orange, 1
great spangled fritillary, 1
meadow fritillary, 1
Ocola skipper, 1
Four FOYs in August:
Ocola skipper, 8/15/13
clouded skipper, 8/21/13
giant swallowtail, 8/25/13
sleepy orange, 8/27/13
Our Species Count for 2013
Our total for the year on the last day of August stood at 92 species, one fewer than last year on the last day of August, but we added little yellow in the first week of September. We now need one more species to tie last year’s 94 for the year and we need two to tie our high count of 95 species for one calendar year (set in 2008).
Contributors in August 2013:
Cynthia Allen, Jesse Amesbury, Dave Amadio, Pat Amadio, Denise Bittle, Jesse Connor, Jack Connor, Ruth Cranmer, Janet Crawford, Mike Crewe, Jim Dowdell, Kathy Flynn, Jane Galetto, Steven Glynn, Jean Gutsmuth, Chris Herz, Mike Russell, Brian Johnson, Karen Johnson, Sandra Keller, Will Kerling, Tony Klock, Teresa Knipper, Chip Krilowicz, Patty Likens, Jenny McCann, Mildred Morgan, Josh Nemeth, Beth Polvino, Gibson Reynolds, Mike Russell, Megane Smith, Clay Sutton, Pat Sutton, Chris Tonkinson, Jim Trainer, Nancy Watson, and David Wright.
Thanks to each of you for participating and especially for those of you who have drawn others into our project. Please keep at that — and keep exploring and reporting.
The full compilation for August 2013 in spreadsheet/pdf form is at the link below. Green – first of year reports, yellow = first of the month, blue = reports of non-adult stages. Bold print = totals for the month (most, not all, species have been totaled.) Hit the plus sign for easier viewing. If you want an Excel version, send me an email at nacotejackATgmailDOTcom.
Thank you, everyone!
August full spreadsheet in pdf: