The Butterfly Park is Butterfly Central right now! This weekend butterflies were literally everywhere. The Butterfly bushes are in full flower along the main trail and together with the bright pink joe-pye-weed are an absolute magnet for butterflies and other insects. On Sunday they were simply alive with activity. If you have even a casual interest in seeing some butterflies and haven't been over to the Park recently, consider a walk on the next warm sunny day. You will not be disappointed!
Amazingly, the East Brunswick Butterfly Park turns 10 this year! Kudos to all the volunteers that have helped make this park so special. Despite its small size and location in a heavily developed area, the park provides lots of opportunities to find a wide variety of butterflies throughout the spring, summer and fall. It just takes a little looking.
Throughout the years, dozens of species of butterflies have been seen in the park. The Friends has developed an Online Field Guide to them that has photographs, ecological notes and tips on how to tell butterflies apart that look similar. The park also has a Facebook page so that everyone can share what they find at the park.
While the Butterfly Park is too small to have much in the way of rarities or butterflies of special habitats, it offers a convenient respite and an opportunity to find many common species right in the middle of 50,000 people. And since "butterflying" is a lot like a treasure hunt, you just never know what you might find even in a small place like the East Brunswick Butterfly Park.
Each year we try to do something new with the Park. This year, with the help of the Patch, we are posting what is being seen at the Park each week. We can't always get there ourselves to see what is flying, so please share your observations and photos with us either on the Facebook page or at email@example.com.
So, what's flying now? There are butterflies everywhere at the park right now. They simply can't be missed. I spent an hour on Sunday there and saw well over a dozen species in that short time. I'm certain if I had more time I would have found even more. Butterflies were nectaring all over the butterfly bushes and the bright pink joe-pye-weed was a swirl of activity. I just stood near it and new butterflies kept flying in as others nectared and left. The nectar flow must be very strong because many of the butterflies didn't seem to care at all that I was there. Many allowed me to look very closely at them and to take lots of photographs too. I also found butterflies on the many other flowering plants in the park, especially along the meadow trails. Although lots of the butterflies were out in plain sight on blooming flowers, with a little patient searching I found others in the meadow and along the trails.
As in past weeks there were cabbage whites and Silver-spotted skippers literally everywhere and in huge numbers. There were also loads of other smaller skippers including; Sachem, Northern Black Dash, Common Sootywing, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Tawny-Edged, Delaware, Peck's and Zabulon. These are all small, dime or nickel-sized triangle-shaped butterflies that earn their common name of "skipper" by their constant habit of "skipping" on and off of the flowers. They are incredibly active little butterflies and although at first glance may seem brownish, are worth a closer look. Many are beautifully colored and patterned. They are so abundant that they simply cannot be missed when you visit the park. It also wasn't hard to find the very tiny Eastern tailed blue by looking in grass areas with white clover and on the low flowers in the central island. I also saw at least a half dozen monarchs, a Tiger swallowtail, a Spicebush swallowtail, a few Red-banded hairstreaks, a Common sulphur, a few Pearl crescents and a Red-spotted purple. I'm sure with a little more time, even more species would have been found.
If you go to the park looking for butterflies, try and pick warm mornings or afternoons with little wind. Scan the meadows and walk the woodland trails and let us know what you find. Looking for butterflies is a lot like a treasure hunt. You never know what you might find. Not every butterfly will be evident or just flying around in plain sight. Finding butterflies takes a little practice, but once you begin to know what to look for you will be amazed at what is at the Park. Happy Butterflying!