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Dr. Bill's Corner - Butterflies

As a friend of Hoffman Center, Dr. Bill, an avid birder, spent many afternoons walking the grounds of Hoffman Center searching, watching, and studying the many species inhabiting this nature preserve. During these walks he began taking notice of another winged family inhabiting the preserve... the butterflies.

Beginning on July 15, 2001 and continuing through October 9, 2003, Dr. Bill has compiled an impressive list of the various species of butterflies that can be found at Hoffman Center. From the common and non-native Cabbage White, Pieris rapae, (one of only two introduced and established species on Long Island) to the Viceroy, Limenitis archippus, and the Common Checkered Skipper, Pyrgus communus, both of which are rare on Long Island. In all, Dr. Bill has identified a total of 49 species of butterflies. One additional butterfly, the ‘Summer’ Spring Azure, Celastrina ladon neglecta, may be a form of Spring Azure, Celastrina ladon, or may be a separate species. The taxonomists are still sorting this out.

Along with the Monarch, Danaus plexippus, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, that everyone is familiar with some very noteworthy sightings were made. American Copper, Lycaena phlaeas, seems easier to find here at the center than in many other places on Long Island’s North Shore. The Red Banded Hairstreak, Calycopus cecrops, is uncommon but a regular visitor to the center. It was seen on 4 out of 6 visits in 2003. The Common Checkered Skipper, Pyrgus communus, is rare on Long Island but was seen once near the big pond where there is an abundance of one of it’s host plants, the alien Musk Mallow, Malva moshata.

Plant diversity is the key to attracting butterflies. First, know the host plants for butterflies that will feed the caterpillars and second, know those plants that provide good to excellent nectar sources for the adults. An increase in the abundance of both groups of plants can make the butterfly numbers and diversity increase in a given area. Lastly, a constant source of water is important to attracting butterflies.

New sitings, updated lists, and new pictures will be added as they become available.

Links to information on butterflies and butterfly gardening:

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