Record numbers of endangered Karner blue butterflies have been counted this year at three locations in the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, according to an intern who counts them.
Christina Dinovo of Albany has been out in the field counting the blue, quarter-sized butterflies since mid-May.
“Compared to last year, the numbers are up,” Dinovo said.
Dinovo, an intern who recently graduated from Green Mountain College in Vermont with a degree in natural resource management, is the park’s Karner blue butterfly monitor.
The Karner blue is on both the state and federal endangered species lists. Albany’s Pine Bush and several locations in Saratoga County are some of the only places the butterfly is found in New York State.
Dinovo does statistical studies of 20 sites in the 1,600 acre preserve and park on the east side of the Northway in Wilton.
The sites with significant increases in Karner blue butterflies include the Old Gick Farm site and Fox Farm site, both off Route 50, and the old Camp Saratoga site on Scout Road.
Dinovo also monitors the butterfly habitat, which is the blue lupine wildflower, and a variety of nectar-producing wildflowers. The Karner blue lays its eggs in the blue lupine and the insect, in its caterpillar stage. eats the leaves of the lupine. The butterflies take nectar from various wildflowers.
At the Old Gick site, Dinovo counted 225 butterflies on a peak day of June 4; 200 Karner blue were counted at the Fox Farm site in the June 4-5 time period and about 100 Karner blues counted during the same days at Camp Saratoga.
These were the first “brood” of the Karner blue, which generally features two hatches during the spring and summer of a given year.
Sarah Clarkin, executive director of the preserve and park, said the second hatch of the butterfly is starting to emerge.
Dinovo will be leading an educational walk and discussion of the Karner blue at 10 a.m. July 12 at the Old Gick Farm site on Route 50. By this time the second and last brood should be hatched and in flight.
“While walking a .84-mile loop through restoration areas and woodland, participants will identify the butterfly, see its habitat and learn about its life cycle, threats confronting its survival, and the actions under way to save it,” Clarkin said about the preserve and park’s July 12 outing.
Clarkin presented a quarterly report on preserve and park activities to the Wilton Town Board on July 3.
She discussed the preserve and park’s elementary school outreach program that involves students at both the Ballard Road Elementary School and the Dorothy Nolan Elementary School.
She also outlined the preserve and park’s free educational nature programs held throughout the year.
The preserve and park is a partnership that includes the town of Wilton, The Nature Conservancy, Saratoga County and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It is an incorporated non-profit membership organization created 12 years ago to preserve and protect the Karner blue butterfly and its habitat.
Clarkin said the 2008 leadership volunteer recruitment and training class is the largest to date with 10 new volunteers.
Other upcoming programs include a Blanding’s turtle outing at 10 a.m. July 19 starting at the preserve and park’s office at 80 Scout Road.
Clarkin and Blanding’s turtle researcher Andrea Chaloux will present the indoor/outdoor program about the state-threatened turtle that is found in the park. The program is free but those interested need to pre-register by calling the park office at 450-0321. The preserve and park’s Web site is: www.wiltonpreserve.org.