Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Trained & Certified Virgina Master Naturalists


Northern Neck Master naturalists

Photo by Patricia McMurray

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First Annual Northern Neck Butterfly Count

Photo by Kyle Langford

What better than a day outside tracking and identifying butterflies?

The First Annual Northumberland-Lancaster Butterfly Count is slated for 30 July. The event is open to the public. This inaugural and fun event is sponsored by the Northern Neck Master Naturalists. The event is important to citizen science to help determine the species of butterflies in our area and their abundance. It is also intended to help all of us learn about and identify the many butterflies loving the Northern Neck. If you can tell the difference between a hummingbird and an osprey this event may be for you.

This inaugural count is part of the annual North American Butterfly Association count that collects data in North America. The North American Butterfly Association has run the Butterfly Count Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico since 1993. Each of the approximately 450 counts consists of a compilation of all butterflies observed at sites within a 15-mile diameter count circle in a one-day period. The annually published reports provide a tremendous amount of information about the geographical distribution and relative population sizes of the species counted. Comparisons of the results across years can be used to monitor changes in butterfly populations and study the effects of weather and habitat change on North American butterflies.

These events are similar to Christmas Bird Counts. For the Northumberland-Lancaster Butterfly count the same 15 mile circle will be used that was established for the Northumberland-Lancaster Christmas Bird Count. The circle - centered near Wicomico Church covers areas to include parts of Reedville, Kilmarnock, Irvington, Lancaster Courthouse as well as the Hickory Hollow, Hughlett Point, and Dameron Marsh Nature Preserves as well as many of the various communities and lands of the two counties.

If you have an interest in participating in the count, please contact Jeff Wright, the compiler for the count, at

Counts are open to public participation and new participants are encouraged. Depending on the count, one or more count parties will survey sites within the 15-mile diameter count circle on a given day. Four to Six count parties are planned for this year’s event. Give it a try and enjoy!