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Wanted: Folks to help count butterflies during annual tally

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers will participate in the North American Butterfly Association’s 45th annual butterfly count, which helps researchers monitor butterfly population trends throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as the effects of weather and habitat loss.

The count at the estates this year is 10 a.m. to noon Friday, July 24.

Each year, butterflies are observed and counted at about 450 sites. The counts are tallied and compiled into annual reports, which are available through NABA and include information about species population size and geographical distribution. Each count site is required to cover a 15-mile diameter circle within one day. The Edison-Ford estates count includes Lakes Regional Park and Rotary Park to ensure coverage of 15 miles. Butterfly spotters may participate at any of the three locations.

Last year, participants counted a total of 383 butterflies, and 24 different species were observed. That number was down from the 2018 count, with 531 butterflies. Monarch, gulf fritillary and white peacock butterflies have been seen most frequently.

One team last year saw 78 white peacocks. Some of the other butterflies with significant numbers include the barred yellow, ceraunus blue, dainty sulphur and polydamas swallowtail.

The count offers butterfly enthusiasts a chance to observe many different species and practice their identification skills. It’s also an opportunity to meet other enthusiasts and share information.

Many participants have butterfly gardens in their own yards.

For anyone wishing to create a butterfly garden, a NABA-certified butterfly demonstration planting is viewable in the Garden Shoppe and both nectar and host plants are available for purchase.

To participate in the count, all butterfly enthusiasts must register with Lisa at LWilson@edisonford.org before July 17. The fee to participate is $5 per person, which covers the required fee the estates pays to NABA. Experience is helpful, but not required. Those with less experience can help record data or take photos.

Butterfly spotters should be prepared to walk outside for at least two hours in hot, humid weather. All participants should wear a hat and sunscreen and bring drinking water.

The total number of participants will be capped at 50, to allow for social distancing. For everyone’s safety, estates employees will be wearing masks and all participants will be encouraged to wear masks.

For additional information, visit www.EdisonFord.org or call 239-334-7419. ¦

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