2013-08-23 / LifeStyles

Citizen scientists needed for butterfly count in September

The public is invited to join park staff in September for two free butterfly programs at Congaree National Park.

Sponsored by the park’s Old-Growth Bottomland Forest Research and Education Center, the programs are coordinated in partnership with the Carolina Butterfly Society and the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). The programs engage “citizen scientist” volunteers to help identify and count butterflies in the park.

Butterflies are beautiful elements of the natural world and ecologically important as pollinators, consumers, and food sources for other animals. Scientists recognize that butterflies are also important indicators of ecosystem health. These programs provide data not only for the park, but also contribute to long-term, nationwide monitoring of butterfly populations. The NABA Butterfly Count has been held annually since 1975. Volunteers all over North America select a count area 15 miles in diameter and conduct a one-day census of all butterflies observed within that circle.

Two separate programs are being offered at Congaree:

Saturday, Sept. 7, 9-11:30 a.m.: Butterfly Identification Training: This optional program will involve a short introduction to butterflies of Congaree and basic butterfly identification skills, followed by a short hike to practice new skills. Meet at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.

Saturday, Sept. 14, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Seasonal NABA Butterfly Count: Participants will conduct a day of field observations counting butterflies in the park. The count will last until about 4:30 p.m., weather permitting. Meet at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.

All ages and experience levels are welcome. These programs are free, but space is limited. Advance reservations are requested. Appropriate clothing is required of all participants, including longpants and closed-toed shoes that attach to the feet. Sun protection, bug spray, water, snacks, and a sack lunch (Sept. 14) are recommended. Binoculars are recommended as well, but not required; a limited supply of binoculars will be available for use during these programs.

For more information, contact Terri Hogan, Chief of Integrated Resource Management, terri_ hogan@nps.gov or 803 647-3960. To make reservations or to find more information about how you can experience Congaree National Park, call 803 647-3970 or visit nps.gov/cong.

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