Butterfly Count

By: Melissa Reynolds
By: Melissa Reynolds

Last year the Shenandoah National Park group counted more than 3,000 butterflies and 56 species.

"She changed her name from Rory to Butterfly when she was about four or five and had people calling her that," Maureen O'Rourke says.

"Just one day I wanted to change it to Butterfly and I did," Butterfly O'Rourke says.

So, it's just natural she wanted to be part of the count.

"See you count these spots on the Comma there's 1-2-3-4."

This nine-year-old is learning how to identify the insects and what they're like.

"I like all of it because it's fun to look for and fun to see sometimes when they go really fast all you see is different shades of colors-it's kinda cool," Butterfly says.

That's not all that's cool, did you know butterflies don't eat food?

"Butterflies can't eat they can only drink they've got a soda straw for a tongue it's kind of a tube it can only suck nectar," Mara Meisel says.

"See the butterfly weed-to the left of that it's only as big as a dime."

This count can also help predict the future.

"Butterflies can indicate that something is going on in the greater environment that we might not be aware of as humans that we should be paying attention to because what's going on out there can affect us as well," Meisel says.

There's no better place to get that information, the Shenandoah National Park group usually finds twice as many butterflies as every other group in the state, they cover all kinds of ground.

"That's a range of elevations but we also have a wide variety of habitats we've got hollows, streams, mountain ridges, farm fields, the gravel roads," Meisel says.

Perfect for first time counters like the O'Rourke's.

This count's an annual thing across the nation and more than 476 groups count.

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