I was away in Italy for the past two weeks and couldn't wait to get over to the Butterfly Park as soon as I got back. As expected, there were flowers blooming and butterflies everywhere. In fact, it might be more appropriate to call this post, What's NOT Flying? because there are so many species on the wing right now.
The Butterfly bushes are in full flower along the main trail and not only smell like perfume but are irresistible to all kinds of butterflies and other insects. The joe-pye-weed and the dogbane aren't far behind and will also be a magnet for insects.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, what's flying now? There are loads of butterflies on the wing and many species are flying in large numbers too! It's a great time to take a walk there if you are interested in butterflies or just for some quiet time among the flowers. And because many of the butterflies are nectaring on the butterfly bushes, they can often be closely approached for photographs too. Some of the species found before I left on vacation like the Little wood satyrs are probably done flying until next year but lots of other species have taken their place. But you can be sure that there are even more to come!
During a half hour walk on Sunday I saw Silver-spotted skippers flitting around all over the place. It also wasn't hard to find the diminutive Eastern tailed blue by looking in the short grasses for this very tiny but beautiful butterfly. Cabbage whites were literally everywhere; there must have been at least 50 on the wing and on the butterfly bushes. I also saw a monarch, two Spicebush swallowtails, quite a few clouded sulphurs, 3 or 4 Tiger swallowtails, a Painted lady, dozens of Peck's skippers, a few Wild Indigo duskywings, plenty of little bright orange Delaware skippers and a few Duskywings that are probably Juvenal's but that seem very richly brown and patterned and could possibly be Horace's. I'm leaning toward Juvenal's because they seem to occur in more open areas like we have at the park and Horace's seems to prefer more wooded places. But half the fun of looking for butterflies is just trying to figure out what they are. Not everyone needs to have name, sometimes just looking and enjoying, is just as rewarding.
If you go to the park looking for butterflies, try and pick warm afternoons. 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!