Third Annual White Mountain Butterfly Count and Insect Survey 2007

Plebejus icarioides "Boisduval's Blue"

The third annual "4th of July" White Mountain Butterfly Count and Insect Surveywas held on Tuesday July 24, 2007. Counters gathered at the Crooked Creek station at 8:00 am and drove up to the highest part of the Barcroft Plateau known as "NASA Flats" (elevation 13,200' - 4025m) to begin counting. This site is new for the count, adding the south base of White Mountain Peak into the count schedule. At this site we observed huge numbers of Shasta Blue butterflies (Plebejus shasta) - in some areas there were 1-3 butterflies per square meter. After counting there, we drove down the transect to Barcroft Observatory, Barcroft Station, Sheep Pass, Campito Meadow, Big Prospector Meadow, and Crooked Creek Station, the same sites as in prrevious years. The number of Shasta Blues declined as we descended, and we began to pick up a few P. icarioides and a few other species, but the numbers were sparse except for the P. shasta. The count totals may be seen in the count excel spreadsheet. Site information may be found in the count site excel spreadsheet.

Stinkbugs (Chlorochroa) can be very common.(click to enlarge).

The 2007 insect survey sweep samples were strikingly different from those of 2006.  Sweep netting resulted in an average of 25 individuals, eight species, and six families.  Of the 57 families collected in 2006, 48 showed reduced abundance, 45 had a >80% reduction in abundance, and 33 were completely absent.  Diversity was low, and dominance was high at 64%-- twice the dominance of the previous year.  Vacuum results again generally paralleled sweep trends.

"Butterfly Gothic" 2007

2007 counters Jeff Holmquist, Angela Jayko, Jutta Schmidt-Gengenbach, Derham Giuliani, and John Smiley standing on the steps at Crooked Creek.

 

Jeff collecting a sweep sample at Crooked Creek.