Blue Ridge Parkway Field Trip for Naturalists, Sept. 24, 2016

On Saturday, Sept. 24, twenty folks gathered at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Parkway for a nature field trip. This was a joint trip with Carolina Butterfly Society, NC Native Plant Society, Piedmont Bird Club, and Audubon, so we had lots of knowledgeable people to help identify butterflies and other critters. By the end of the trip, we had recorded 18 species of butterflies.

This date was chosen because it’s near the peak of migration for Monarch Butterflies. These butterflies tend to follow the Parkway on their journey south to Mexico. We didn’t see a huge number this time, but we did see two adults and four caterpillars. Several people got to watch as Meadow Fritillaries, a higher elevation species that we don’t have in the Piedmont, were laying eggs in a meadow near their caterpillar host plant, violets.

After exploring the music center, we had a picnic and then proceeded south on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few miles. The early autumn wildflowers were blooming in profusion. As hoped, there was something to see for just about everyone on this beautiful, sunny, cool fall day.

With 20 people scattered around seeing different things in different places, it turned out to be impossible to get an accurate count of individual butterflies. Consequently, the numbers next to the species below are estimates and in some cases probably low.

Butterfly List BRP 9-24-16

Black Swallowtail 1 + 1 cat
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 2
Cabbage White 10
Clouded Sulphur 10
Orange Sulphur 10
Cloudless Sulphur 20
Sleepy Orange 5
Gray Hairstreak 1
Variegated Fritillary 5+
Great Spangled Fritillary 10
Meadow Fritillary 5+
Pearl Crescent 15
Common Buckeye 3
Red-spotted Purple 1
Monarch 2 + 4 cats
Horace’s Duskywing 1
Least Skipper 2
Sachem 5+

18 species
Dennis Burnette