The Latest South Bergenite Column

P swallowtail-1
                                                       Pipevine Swallowtail

NJMC staffer Jim Wright, who keeps this blog, also writes a column every other Thursday for The South Bergenite. His latest, about the Butterfly Day this Sunday at DeKorte, is below:

July is my “nervous” month at DeKorte Park – thanks to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s annual Butterfly Day.

This year’s event is this Sunday (July 24), from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and its success depends a lot on the whims of Mother Nature. You just never know how many butterflies – or butterfly species – will show up on the big day.  If it’s a sunny day with a gentle breeze, there could be butterflies galore. If it’s cloudy or windy, it’s anybody’s guess.

We have been very lucky so far.

The free, family-friendly event started two years ago as a butterfly walk, sponsored by the NJMC and Bergen County Audubon Society. Maybe the spring was too wet in 2009, or maybe the butterflies didn’t get the memo, but as the day approached, we weren’t getting many of these delicate creatures fluttering about.

Then, about three days before the walk, butterflies started appearing by the dozen, and I kept my fingers crossed that they’d stick around a while. They did, and the walk was a success.

In fact, the public’s response was so enthusiastic that last year we decided to make it a full-fledged day of events, including butterfly walks, scavenger hunts for kids, a booth on making your garden butterfly-friendly, and slide shows and talks about butterflies at DeKorte Park.

The NJMC asked the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association to lead the butterfly walks for us, and we lucked out once again. Mother Nature cooperated – and we had another great day.

Fast-forward to this July, when butterflies were scarce for the first third of the month. Then – wham! – one Sunny morning I saw several nifty butterflies.   Actually, two of the butterflies were beyond nifty. They were “firsts” for DeKorte Park: a pipevine swallowtail and variegated fritillary. Even better, these two butterflies are absolutely beautiful.

The pipevine swallowtail is a large butterfly with a body and wings that are such a bright blue as to be electrified. The variegated fritillary’s wings are a beautiful pattern of browns and yellows.

Will we see any rarities this Sunday, on Butterfly Day? Will we get a lot of butterflies, period? The answer is simple: You just never know.

If it’s rainy on Sunday morning, we will reschedule for Sunday, July 31. If it’s cloudy or windy, we’ll hope for the best. The good news is we have plenty of folks from BCAS and NABA to find butterflies and tell you about them – and how to attract them to your own back yard.

I’ll also be doing a quick slide show every hour, featuring photos of butterflies taken right here in DeKorte Park. The show will teach butterfly basics, and the best places to see them at DeKorte.

  Hope to see you on Sunday. I’ll be the guy in the white Meadowlands Commission cap, with his fingers crossed.

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