The weather this past weekend was glorious and fnding butterflies at the Butterfly Park was easy. Unfortunately, this week has been a bit soggy and has dampened the chances to search for butterflies. But, as soon as the sun breaks out, butterflies will take to the wing again from whatever spot they've found to wait out the rain. For them and us it's just a matter of being patient.
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 On-line 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? This weekend while weeding the beds with my wife Lois and my friend Liti (and both are Board members of the Friends as well) a short walk around the park continued to show an ever-increasing number of butterflies on the wing: I saw the first Red-banded hairstreak of the season near the main trail. The caterpillars of this butterfly feed on the fallen leaves of sumac and other trees. Sumac grows all over the park and that must be why this butterfly is often extremely abundant. There were also a few Red admirals and Question marks still flying around (but nothing like a few weeks ago during the incredible irruption from the south), cabbage whites can't be missed and at least 6 were flying in the meadow, a few common sulphurs were also flying in the meadow, the tiny Eastern-tailed blue was easily found with a little bit of looking, a few Silver-spotted skippers and Peck's skippers were easily found in the short grasses near Rues Lane.
There are also loads of ladybugs around the park and in fact I've never seen so many there before. They are literally on plants all over the place and are very easy to find. I think it must have been the mild winter that allowed them to survive in huge numbers.
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.