This year’s annual butterfly count was held on Sunday, July 17. Teams of naturalists — organized by Cliff Hagen, president of the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods — spread out across Staten Island to assess the status of the borough’s butterfly population.
According to Hagen, “It is important to continue to monitor the health and wellness of these gentle winged creatures because they are a simple indication as to the health and wellness of our communities. As we move from Snug Harbor, to Northern Seaview, Great Kills Park, Blue Heron Park, Mount Loretto, Conference House Park and lastly Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve, we traveled through nearly every neighborhood on the Island. We were able to see the impact of economic growth and development.”
A tally of the day’s observations revealed that a total of 598 individual butterflies belonging to two dozen species had been seen. This was a bit lower than years past. Part of the reason for the low count may be that this year’s event was postponed from an earlier date due to inclement weather.
“Butterflies are so weather-dependent. Too cool, too wet, too windy and the count is spoiled. These past two years we have had to reschedule the count due to unseasonably cool, wet weather,” Hagen said. “And because the flight stage of their short life-cycle is so brief, a week can make a substantial difference in species diversity and census data of our local butterflies.”