Butterfly Beacons You Can Count On

Butterfly Beacons You Can Count On

This year’s butterfly count recorded 69 different butterfly species in San Antonio. If your landscape boasts native plants, you’ve likely drawn many of these winged wonders to your own backyard.

Every year throughout North America, teams of butterfly enthusiasts, budding entomologists, nature lovers and curious volunteers gather to survey butterfly populations in their region.

A group coordinated by the North American Butterfly Association spent the morning of June 7 this year identifying and recording butterfly species present all over San Antonio including at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center and the San Antonio River Mission Reach. This year’s count recorded 69 different butterfly species at the three areas.

If you’re lucky enough to have a landscape that boasts native plants, you’ve likely drawn many of these winged wonders to your own backyard.

A butterfly’s subtle wing spots, antennae structure and affinity for certain plants all factor into differentiating between the species. Throughout the count, a number of energetic butterflies no larger than the size of a nickel were identified. They’re called skippers and there were a few types spotted including: multiple fiery skippers with bright orange wings; and white checkered or common skippers with spotted, or “checkered,” white and brown patterns on their wings.

Swallowtail butterflies are also common in the Botanical Gardens, but they’re much larger than skippers and sport a range of colors, from a bright black and yellow pattern, to a black and iridescent blue combination that reflects brightly in the sun.

On the survey this year, butterfly counters got the chance to witness the large black and iridescent blue butterfly, called the pipevine swallowtail, laying her eggs on the Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla).

Count participants also observed the Lyside butterfly near its favorite plant, the Guayacan tree. This species is a welcome visitor to San Antonio thanks, in part, to the landscape at the Botanical Garden.

The queen butterfly, commonly mistaken for a monarch, was also seen many times, marked by its bright orange and black wings with white spots. The difference: the wings lack the stained-glass appearance particular to the Monarch’s.

Results of the count will be published in the North American Butterfly Association’s annual Butterfly Count Report.

You can participate in a count and learn to identify native butterfly species — click here for more information!

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