July-August Newsletter 2022

Backyard Butterflies

NABA Count Slide (1)
Greetings reader,
I hope this newsletter finds you well and in good spirits, staying cool and dry.

Butterfly activity is starting to pick up in our habitat. John counted 19 species this week. Which is good considering how this year has been for butterfly activity. However, total number of each species is at an all-time low.

Speaking of counting butterflies, we're less than a month away from the beginning of the NABA Butterfly Count season. We welcome and encourage you to come out and join us for one or more of the six upcoming counts conducted within the Piedmont. It's a great way to learn how to identify butterflies in the wild and participate in citizen science.

John has begun to germinate seeds for our first-ever fall plant sale fundraiser. We will be offering our most popular plants that sold this spring and a few new ones. The sale will take place at Backyard Butterflies on the first Saturday and Sunday in October. In addition to in-person shopping you will be able to pre-order plants for pick-up during the sale hours. More details to follow as we get closer to the event dates.

Peace, Love & Leps,
Lior Carlson
Executive Director

NABA Butterfly Counts

What are NABA Butterfly Counts?

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) has been conducting its count program since 1993. There are approximately 450 counts conducted annually in Canada, USA, and Mexico.

A count is a one day census of butterflies observed by one or more parties within a 15 mile designated diameter.

Each count has a compiler, the person who collects the data from all parties and submits the count totals to NABA.

All ages and skill levels of identification are welcome to participate. Newcomers will be partnered with more experienced butterfliers. If you are recording butterflies in your backyard on count days, use the resources below to assist you with identification. Be sure to take photos if possible of uncommon or rare butterflies for positive identification.

There is a $3 participation fee collected by count compilers that is used by NABA for costs associated with conducting the counts. In order to encourage people to join us, Backyard Butterflies will cover the participation fee for our two counts as part of our education and community outreach programs.

NABA Counts are conducted by volunteers: that means YOU!

The counts depend upon volunteers, aka Citizen Scientists, aka YOU, to go outdoors and observe butterflies and tally what you see. The data you collect is used by scientists and others to understand changes in butterfly populations, species migrations, and more.

If you aren't able to join us on location for a count, but you live within the count circle, you are welcome to submit to us your butterfly sightings on the day of the count. Visit the NABA website for interactive maps.
6 count NABA map
Click image for full sized view


These are some commonly asked questions about NABA butterfly counts. If you have a question that isn't asked, please contact us.

How do you count butterflies?

As we walk through areas we make note of the butterflies sighted around us. Sometimes we are able to have an exact tally, whereas other times we might make a reasonable estimate if there is a large congregation of butterflies on a nectar plant or puddling on the ground. If we walk back through an area we only count those species we didn’t observe before.

How should I dress for a butterfly count?

It’s recommended you dress in long, durable pants as we often go off trail into tall grasses and plants. Sturdy footwear is a necessity. Wearing shorts, sandals or flip-flops, or open toed shoes is not advised. Other clothing considerations include wearing a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and light fabrics designed for sweating or outdoor hiking.

What should I bring with me to the count?

A backpack or bag in which to stow water, snacks, and other essential items you might need for being outdoors with triple digit heat indexes. Binoculars, camera, field guides, insect spray, sunscreen, change of clothes, and a towel or two are optional items to bring with you.

What kind of amenities are accessible during a butterfly walk?

It depends on the location of the count. Those counts taking place in the state parks will have access to flush or composting toilets, picnic areas, and water fountains. Counts that are conducted outside of state parks may have no public facilities. Contact the count compiler to find out what amenities are available during the count.

Do I have to participate for the entire 6 hours?

Generally, no. However, it’s best to check with the compiler to find out their expectations of participants.

How physically fit do I need to be to join a count?

A butterfly count is not a high intensity athletic event. We make our way through areas averaging at a pace of 1 mph. The first 3 hours of the count in the morning is the most comfortable. As the afternoon sun arrives the heat increases and staying hydrated becomes essential.

We think counting butterflies is a fun experience to be enjoyed. We conduct our counts taking into consideration the needs of participants. We understand if you need to take a break or leave the count because of the heat or fatigue. Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or special needs.
P. incanum
Great Spangled Fritillary on mountain mint, Iron Ore Belt Access section of Haw River State Park
NABA Counts 2022 (1)

Tap image for more info and to register to participate in a count

Doug Tallamy Coming to Burlington

Hosted by Alamance County Extension Master Gardeners

Reasonably priced tickets ($5 each) are available to hear guest lecturer Doug Tallamy speak to the community about how we can support insect populations by planting native plants. Tap on the flyer for more information about the event.
tallamy promo
Moth Night Facebook Cover (1)

Caterpillar Support Program

We offer Caterpillar Support to those who are in need of host plants, foster care, or adoption of caterpillars.

There are 21 species of caterpillar that we can provide the host plant for, and we can also provide host plants for some species of moths.

This program is free of charge. All you need to do is apply letting us know what host plants you need, or if you need us to foster care or adopt your caterpillars.
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Monarchs are mating! We're ready to provide Caterpillar Support

Upcoming Events

Caterpillar Raising Workshop Promo

Tap image for more info

Fall Plant Sale (1)
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Plant Pots Return Request

We appreciate the return of pots for re-use if you happen to be passing by our way. No need to contact us, just drop them off on our porch.
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