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Endangered butterfly research. by Patrick Harmon

May 14, 2020
  • Patrick Harmon worked with the endangered northern metalmark butterfly
  • Patrick Harmon worked with the endangered northern metalmark butterfly
  • Patrick Harmon worked with the endangered northern metalmark butterfly

Over the summer I was able to take part in a population study on the endangered northern
metalmark: a small and inconspicuous butterfly that inhabits a handful of shrublands in
Connecticut and New York. Me and several other technicians captured and marked individual
butterflies and recorded their population numbers, after we finished recording the number of
individuals we conducted a round-leaved ragwort density survey. This is a shade-loving plant
that these butterflies lay their eggs on so looking at the number of ragwort should help us predict
how many butterflies may appear in future population surveys. We also surveyed canopy cover
throughout the conservation area to see where the ragwort would most likely grow. At the end of
the study we found almost 400 butterflies which is a substantial increase compared to previous
years. This taught me so much in terms of conservation practices and management, I was glad to
be able to get real world experience out in the field.