A Census of a Different Kind: Butterflies and How You Can Help Count

My son is a volunteer at Canyon Park in Monrovia. He enjoys helping to keep the park clean, interacting with the visitors and feeding the resident animals at the nature center. Recently, at a volunteer “thank you” picnic, I heard about an upcoming event that sounded wonderful. It is the National Butterfly Count!

For those of you who have never been to Canyon Park, let me paint a picture for you. Nestled at the top of the mountains in quaint Monrovia, Canyon Park has been a local treasure for over 100 years. Perfect for hiking, biking, picnicking and even equestrian use, this park is lush with trees, incredible forest-like scenery, and a waterfall that feeds the sounds of nature to your spirit. Many animals call this park their home, including squirrels, foxes, snakes, newts, frogs, deer and predators like bears, mountain lions and bobcats. Many plant species also thrive in Canyon Park’s riparian zones and California oak woodlands. With these plants come many species of butterflies.

The large quantity of butterflies that call the park home is why Canyon Park was selected to represent the San Gabriel Valley in the national butterfly count. Entering into its 17th season, this grant-funded annual event is sponsored by the National Butterfly Association. Volunteers across the country head out at the same time to count the number of butterflies and species that are located in each area. The numbers are tallied in an effort to manage conservation efforts and to increase the public enjoyment of these animals. Eugene Suk is the Manager of Monrovia’s recreational spaces. When asked why the park participates in the butterfly count, he describes the park as an oasis for nature and butterflies. “The park has an impressive amount of butterflies including swallowtails, admiral butterflies, checkered spot butterflies and California sister butterflies,” says Suk. “It’s important that we participate and keep the butterfly population healthy and strong. Butterflies help us keep the life cycle of plants. They feed off the nectars of flowers and create generations of more flowers. If we do not have butterflies, we do not have plants. If we do not have plants, we do not have animals that are herbivores. If we do not have herbivores then we do not have carnivores and the whole cascade of the animal pyramid starts to crumble. Butterflies are very important to our entire ecosphere.”

This year’s butterfly count will be held this Saturday, July 7th at 9:00 a.m. Volunteers of all ages are invited to join as long as they are able to walk the 2.5-mile descending hike. Participants will be given a field guide, and a clipboard, to mark all of the butterflies that are found. Anyone interested should meet at the entrance to the park.  “The Butterfly Count is an important day,” says Park Ranger Suk. “Bring your hiking boots, water bottle, and a hat, and come join others in protecting the environment.”

Monrovia Canyon Park is located at 1200 N. Canyon Blvd in Monrovia, California. Learn more about the park and its public programs at www.cityofmonrovia.org.

Photo: Getty Images

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