BUTTERFLIES OBSERVED ON BARRON ROAD, STEWART BUFFER LANDS
JULY 26, 2003 FROM 11 A.M. TO 3:30 P.M.
Clouded Sulphur (2)
Banded (1) (worn)
Eastern-tailed Blue (1)
Summer Azure (2)
Great Spangled (3)
Eastern Comma (6)
Red Admiral (6)
Painted lady (1)
Buckeye (1) (see notes)
Red-spotted purple (17)
Little Wood (8)
Common Wood Nymph (22)
Wild Indigo (5)
Cross Line (1)
Northern Broken Dash (10)
Little Glassywing (1)
Total species 27, Individuals 126
Weather: Sunny, 78-87o F, Distance covered 3 miles by foot
Notes & Comments:
We entered Barron Road from the north and south spending about the same amount of time, covering about _ of a mile one way in each location. Considering we only covered about 1 _ miles of the entire length of the road the number of species observed was very high. Two very common butterflies were missed: Silver-spotted Skipper & Orange Sulphur that normally can be found in large
stands of Purple Loosestrife which we did not encounter on this trip. The number of species and individuals is noteworthy. The Buckeye was only the 5th known record for Orange County. (The number of dragonfly species, though not recorded, was also notable.)
Though limited to some extent in varied habitats as compared to a place like Sterling Forest, there are few other places in Orange County that can match these results. Large tracts of land like this, with roads making the interior accessible, that can produce such a list of butterflies are fast disappearing in the County and are critical for preservation. They will remain mere remnants of our natural heritage and the only way future generations will be able to enjoy and learn to experience nature as it once was.
OBSERVERS: Peter Post, Gay Fugate, John & Mary Yrizarry. All are members of NYC or NJ chapters of NABA (North American Butterfly Association).
BUTTERFLY OBSERVATIONS IN STEWART STATE FOREST
September 8, 9, 10, 2003
Clouded Sulphur (75)
Orange Sulphur (12)
Eastern Tailed Blue (4)
Summer Azure (2)
Great Spangled (4)
Red Admiral (1)
Red-spotted Purple (1)
Wood Nymph (3)
Total Species 21, Individuals 246
Weather, Time & Locations:
9/8/03: Partly cloudy, Mid-70° F, 12:00 5:00 p.m., Barron Rd.
9/9/03: Sunny, Mid-70°F, 1:00 4:00 p.m., New Rd., Barron Rd. & part of Ridge Rd.
9/10/03: Sunny, Mid-70°F, 12:00 5:00 p.m., Lower New Rd., Weed Rd. & Maple Ave.
NOTES AND COMMENTS
On all roads other than Barron Road, butterfly species were lower in numbers and individuals although the weather was basically the same. Only such species as the Comma (9) and Sliver-spotted Skippers (4) were greater in number on the other roads.
On a previous visit on July 26th with members of the N.Y.C. Butterfly Club we covered both ends, but not the center, of Barron Road on foot. This is the westernmost of the four main roads that run basically north-south within the Buffer Lands. Because the coverage of Barron Road in July was limited only about half of the road length of approximately 3 miles was investigated. The results of that survey were quite notable (see July report) and continued surveys with access to all areas of the buffer lands by car seemed worthwhile.
I applied for and was granted vehicle access to the Stewart State Forest by NYSDEC so on September 8, 9 & 10, 2003 I continued my survey of insects, primarily lepidoptera. This latest visit rated very high when compared with many other county parklands. This was especially true of Barron Road. Having vehicle use enabled me to not only cover the full length of Barron Road in one afternoon but, just as important, I was able to survey the other roads as well in the two days following. The Weather conditions were similar on all three days thus allowing a fair comparison.
Not only was I able to count 21 species of butterflies including a Leonards skipper, found rarely and only locally in Orange County, on Barron Road. I also found a small population of Rufus-vented Tiger beetles on Barron Road. This is the first time I have found these in Orange County and they were quite a beautiful sight. The few I observed were running about over a slate rock outcrop, their bright red abdomens and white faces on otherwise dark bodies carried on long, turquoise glittering legs were like moving dabs of paint, striking out in all directions. This sighting was considered unusual by Tim McCabe, an entomologist at the NY State Museum who only finds them in areas north of Albany.
A number of factors contribute to species diversity especially on Barron Road. First and foremost is the great amount of open wetlands just north of parking lots 73 and 74. There is also an unusually large number of Swamp Milkweed found here, which is an important nectaring source and can attract additional species of butterflies when in bloom. Ten species and some 75 or more individuals were on the wing in this area at the time of my visit.
Little Bluestem grass, the host plant for a number of very local butterflies as Leonards Skipper, was found in extensive pastures only along Barron Road. Grassy areas along the other roads still showed the effects of past cultivation where it may take several more years for Little Bluestem to take hold. This grass has, in fact, been especially planted in other areas of the state at no little cost and good effect for butterfly populations.
Along the entire length of Barron Road I found pink-colored Knappweed, a good nectaring source for butterflies and other insects, growing along the edges and in nearby clearings. Its abundance along the road makes easy viewing of butterflies. The only Zebulon Skippers were noted here. Knappweed was found in much lesser amounts along the other roads I covered. Any changes to the Barron Road edges could seriously reduce this plant and the usefulness it serves for attracting insects of many kinds and the predators that feed on them.
Mention must be made of Rowes and Wilkins ponds on Barron Road, two rather large open ponds featuring good stands of Blue Stem Grass. Leonards Skipper was found at Rowes pond which also features a wet meadow which, combined with Blue Stem creates the perfect habitat for this very local butterfly and may support other uncommon species as well. Both ponds also supported many species of dragonflies, some local breeders and some now migrating south. No other Buffer land pond sites feature blue stem in such quantity, if at all.
Two open dry and wet fields of approximately five to ten acres surrounded by woodlands located near parking lot 73 and 74 (the old gunnery range) and the other at lot 63 supported the only good stands of Ironweed that I found in the buffer. This combination of wet, dry and woodland habitats together provide great biodiversity that supports a great diversity of insects. Ironweed provides great nourishment for several nectaring butterfly species. What made these two fields outstanding was the sheer number of butterflies present. Although there are other similar combinations of habitat along the other roads in the buffer lands they did not appear to support insect life as rich as the Barron Road sites when I visited them the next two days with similar weather conditions.
Finally the road system in the Buffer lands plays a most important part in the scheme of things. It allows free, unobstructed passage to all forms of wildlife including butterflies and other insects. Horse and other animal droppings, puddles and other natural debris found along the roadways attract many kinds of insects. There are few sights as memorable as a mixed crowd of butterflies hovering over and sipping nutrients from damp spots along the roadway. These roads afford an easy, convenient way for the public to enter the realm of discovery of the natural world. There are very few places in the county that combine the features of multiple habitats, a great variety of wildlife and a convenient roadway delivery system.
Each road offered something different, whether it be other habitats or better quality ones. Such richness could add to potential findings in the future. Major changes to any of these roads, particularly Barron Road, would result in forfeiting what is already there and what could be there in the future. Nature-wise, the public would indeed be sadly shortchanged and future generations the poorer for it.
147 Benjamin Meadow Road
Tuxedo, NY 10987