Butterfly Phenology

Phenology is the study of the timing of the recurring life cycle stages, or phenophases, of plants and animals, such as leafing and flowering, maturation of agricultural plants, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. The study of phenology is particularly important as a 21st-century science because phenology records can help us understand ecological responses to climate change.

Butterflies are one group of animals that have been found to be affected by climate change. The Sanctuary's butterfly garden in the Glendening Preserve, being easily accessible, succinct, and maintained with a high density of plants that are significant to multiple butterfly life stages, is an ideal observation site to conduct butterfly phenology research.

In 2013, we launched a 10-year phenology study in the butterfly garden. Research Fellow Darcy Herman piloted the project, and helped us refine our goals. Click to view the 2013 year end report. In partnership with the Nature's Notebook phenology site, we have selected 12 species of butterflies to observe.

 Volunteers are critical to the success of the project so that we can collect data daily on the presence, or absence, of the twelve target species. Volunteers can click the links below to access helpful resources.
12 Butterflies Cheat Sheet
Darcy's 2015 Butterfly Phenology presentation
Protocol Cheat Sheet
How to Observe handbook
Lep Log by Rick Borchelt (what butterflies are out this week)
Growing Degree Days calculator (generally when we get near 50, insects start moving)

Volunteers are critical to the research conducted here. Click to get involved.