Help Save the Butterflies
Remembering the Butterflies
Growing up in San Diego County, I was fortunate to experience an abundance of butterflies during my childhood. There were so many that one couldn't drive anywhere without unintentionally collecting specimens on the grill or windshield of your car. The variety of species was impressive: swallowtails, Mourning Cloaks, fritillaries, checkerspots, Viceroys, blues, hairstreaks, Cabbage Whites, sulphurs, Painted Ladies, Red Admirals and more.
Today, I meet children who have only rarely seen a Cabbage White or maybe a swallowtail. Pesticides, development and habitat destruction are primarily responsible for the scarcity of butterflies in the San Francisco Bay Area, resulting in a tremendous loss of enchanting beauty.
Saving the Butterflies
We have a challenge and opportunity during the drought years to develop rewarding alternatives to heavy water use in our gardens. We can not only learn to appreciate native plants, we can also assist butterflies by learning what plants their larvae feed upon and which the adult butterflies seek out for nectar. If enough of us help restore their habitat in neighboring yards, we may help increase the population of some of these delicate creatures.
The Butterfly Count
On Sunday, July 5 at 9 a.m. there will be an opportunity for Bay Area volunteers to participate in the annual butterfly count on San Bruno Mountain. This project is part of the North American Butterfly Association's annual national butterfly count, undertaken throughout the United States for the past 35 years . The count will be led by Patrick Kobernus of Coast Ridge Ecology and Liam O'Brien of SF Butterfly. Volunteers will meet up at 9 a.m. at the San Bruno Mountain County park entrance just off Guadalupe Canyon Parkway.
All levels of experience are welcome. Past years counts have been highlighted by observations of the federally endangered callippe silverspot butterflies, anise swallowtails, pipevine swallowtails, mission blues, great coppers, and several others. There is a $3.00 fee that pays for data collection and analysis.
How to Participate
Please contact Patrick Kobernus (650.269.3894) if you would like to participate in the butterfly count. You will be hiking on steep trails, so bring sturdy hiking shoes, water, sunscreen, snacks, a sunhat, etc. Previous knowledge of butterfly species is not necessary, as each group will have a leader who is knowledgeable in the local butterfly species. However, you might want to visit the website. and watch Butterflies & Bulldozers available through your local library for interesting, historical background information on the fight to save butterfly habitat on San Bruno Mountain.
Directions to site: when coming to San Bruno Mountain County Park using Highway 101, take the Bayshore Boulevard/Brisbane exit. Proceed on Bayshore Boulevard to Guadalupe Canyon Parkway. Turn west on Guadalupe Canyon Parkway toward the Mountain and proceed to the park entrance on your right at the top of the hill.
When coming to San Bruno Mountain Park using Highway 280 North, take the Mission Street exit. Head left (north) on Junipero Serra Blvd. Turn right onto San Pedro Blvd. San Pedro Blvd will become E Market Street, and E Market Street will turn into Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, which will take you eastward up the canyon. The Park entrance will be on your left toward the top of the hill. Everyone will meet in the main parking lot, just past the kiosk after you pull into the park entrance. There is a $5 parking fee in the park. If there is heavy fog and/or rain on the day of the event, we will reschedule.
Learn More About Local Butterflies
- Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions by Arthur M. Shapiro
- Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Region by J. W. Tilden
Photo credit: busymonster
Tonya Light is an Extra Help Library Assistant at Foster City Library.