This is the 10th year of the annual Butterfly Education and Awareness Day (BEAD). An international day introducing and celebrating butterflies that will hopefully promote the joy and importance of butterfly gardening and habitat creation/restoration.
Aesthetically pleasing, significant pollinators, and excellent metamorphosis teachers, the butterfly can be distinguished through an assortment of activities. On June 4, 2020, lepidopterists everywhere used their binoculars and celebrated Butterfly Awareness Day.
But this yearly holiday wasn’t only for experienced butterfly watchers; it is also an excellent chance for amateurs to begin learning about butterflies. Butterfly watching has become more prevalent in recent years, and for a good reason.
There is little required to get started — a set of binoculars, a keen eye, and some comfortable field clothing — even though a field guide to look up the butterflies may be useful too.
Where To Go
There are two different things people search for with butterfly watching. The main is diversity; they need a high count of unique species. The next are assemblages of the very same species.
Your perfect butterfly viewing place will depend on which of those is your aim. If you aim to see diversity, you will want to visit Central and South America. Close to the equator is where you will observe the greatest species count. It is around 4000 in Ecuador and Peru.
The variety of climate zones dictates the diversity you’ll find in any given area. Use Ecuador, for example. If you are low, at sea level, or close to it, it is hot, humid, and rains. As you move up in altitude in the Andean hills, you see multiple life and climate zones, so there are various plants for butterflies to feed and lay eggs. Although there’ll be some overlay in the transition zones, the butterflies you see in the Amazon basin will be completely different from what you’ll find at 10,000 feet.
If a trip to the equator is not in the cards for you, there are plenty of places to discover wide butterfly diversity in America. Arizona and Florida are two of the most popular U.S. destinations.
If you are more excited to see vast numbers of the same butterfly, there are numerous options. The most well-known is the gathering of two billion Monarch butterflies that travel from southern Canada and across the U.S. to the California coast or central Mexico for the winter. There are many species with large populations in Florida, too, such as the Viceroys you can find streaming down the Interstate in enormous quantities.
What To Do
Here are a few tips for people just getting started in butterfly watching. First of all, keep your expectations in check. People frequently visit a tropical rain forest, or somewhere that exemplifies wildlife, such as in the films, and hope to see butterflies everywhere.
But have in mind, butterflies do not need to be seen. Several have camouflage and come out at different times of the day. Don’t expect to get swarmed. Just be happy seeing that one rare species you have never seen before, watching a new behavior, or perhaps just enjoying your environment.
Additionally, study up. If you want to get into butterfly watching, Learn as much as possible. Not only will it help you recognize species, but you will have more fun. The simpler it is for you to recognize a species immediately, the more likely you should realize any unusual behavior.
Why Not Try:
- Study a butterfly’s life cycle
- Learn the word butterfly in many different languages
- Check if there is a regional butterfly where you reside and study its habits
- Raise a butterfly in the classroom or at home
- Celebrate the end of the school year by freeing butterflies or better still, planting a butterfly garden/habitat?
Why It Matters
Butterfly watching is not just fun; it is an essential aspect of conservation through “citizen science” “The more you know from studying field guides, joining organizations, taking courses or even just searching/reading on the internet, the more appreciation & understanding you will have for what you are witnessing.
Say, as an instance, you identify the first Monarch of the season. You can then report it to an organization such as the North American Butterfly Association, which may include your findings in their study, all of which help conserve biodiversity.
They are discovering that ‘citizen science’ is almost more important than anything else. Besides helping with Lepidoptera research, butterfly watching contributes to a general conservation culture inside the watcher’s community.
We’re losing lots of our species to extinction on a global scale. Looking at butterflies makes a strong appreciation in the butterfly watcher and everybody in their life since they will share stories. They will have an appreciation for the environment, which is passed along to those near them.
How to Get Involved
While you can acquire a lot of knowledge from a few basic internet searches, but it’s better joining an organization such as the North American Butterfly Association, the Association for Tropical Lepidoptera, or the Lepidopterist Society. This gives you an automatic community that won’t just share present findings and information with you, but may also be an excellent resource for arranging a butterfly watching excursion.
An increasing number of ecotourism companies are offering these trips, so it might be worth asking about the choice when planning your next environmentally focused holiday.
12 Tools for Studying Butterflies – Everything You Will Need to Collect Live Bugs
Insects are everywhere if you know where to look and the best way to catch them. All these”must-have” tools are simple to use, and many can be made out of household materials. Fill out your entomology toolbox with the ideal nets and traps to research insect diversity in your backyard.
1. Aerial Net
Also referred to as a butterfly net, the airborne net traps flying insects. The round wireframe contains a funnel of light netting, supporting you safely ensnare butterflies and other fragile-winged insects.
2. Sweep Net
The sweep net is a more powerful version of the aerial net and can withstand contact with twigs and thorns. Use a sweep net to catch bugs perched on leaves and tiny branches. For research of meadow bugs, a sweep net is crucial.
3. Aquatic Net
Backswimmers, water striders, and other aquatic invertebrates are fun to study and significant water health indicators. To catch them, you’ll require an aquatic net with thicker mesh rather than light netting.
4. Light Trap
Anyone who has seen moths fluttering around a porch light will understand why a light trap is a helpful tool. The light trap has three components: a funnel, a light source, and a container or bucket. The funnel rests on the bucket rim, and the mild is suspended over it. Insects excited to light will fly into the light bulb, sink into the funnel, then drop in the bucket.
5. Black Light Trap
A black-light trap also draws insects at night. A white sheet is pulled onto a frame so that it spreads behind and beneath the black light. The light is mounted in the middle of the sheet. The vast surface area of the sheet gathers insects that are drawn to the light. These live insects are removed by hand.
6. Pitfall Trap
Just as the name suggests, the insect falls into a pit, a container buried in the soil. The pitfall trap grabs ground-dwelling insects. It has a can placed so the lip is level with the soil surface and a cover board raised somewhat above the container. Arthropods looking for a dark, moistened place will walk under the cover board and fall in the can.
7. Berlese Funnel
Many little insects make their shelters in the scattered leaves, and the Berlese funnel is the best instrument to accumulate them. A big funnel is put on the mouth of a container, with a light suspended over it. The leaf litter is set in the funnel. Since insects move away in the warmth and light, they crawl down through the funnel and into the collecting jar.
Small insects or pests in hard to reach areas can be accumulated using an aspirator. The aspirator is a vial with two tubing pieces, one with an excellent screen material over it. By sucking on a single tube, you draw the insect into the vial through the other. The screen keeps the insect (or anything else bothersome) from becoming drawn into your mouth.
9. Beating Sheet
To study insects that live on leaves and branches, like caterpillars, a beating sheet is utilized. Stretch a white or light-colored sheet beneath the tree branches. With a rod or stick, hit the branches over. Insects feeding on the twigs and foliage will fall on the sheet, where they may be collected.
10. Hand Lens
Without a good quality hand lens, you can not see the anatomical details of small insects. Use at least a 10x magnifier. A 20x or 30x jewelry loupe is much better.
Use a pair of long tweezers or forceps to handle the pests you collect. Some insects bite or pinch, so it’s safer to use forceps to maintain them. Small insects can be tough to pick up with your fingers. Always grasp an insect slowly on a soft body area, such as the abdomen, so it’s not harmed.
Once you have gathered some live insects, You’ll need a place to Keep them for monitoring. A plastic critter keeper from the local pet shop can work for larger insects that can’t fit through the air slots. For most insects, any container with little air holes will operate. You can recycle deli containers or margarine tubs– just punch a few holes in the lids. Put a slightly moist paper towel in the container so that the insect has moisture and cover.