Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Trained & Certified Virgina Master Naturalists


Northern Neck Master naturalists

Photo by Patricia McMurray

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First Annual George Washington Birthplace Butterfly Count

Time and meeting location have not been announced. Check back for updates.

As previously announced the Inaugural George Washington Birthplace Butterfly Count will take place on Tuesday 17 Sept.

This inaugural and fun event is sponsored jointly by the Northern Neck Master Naturalists and the Middle Peninsula 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 and Middle Peninsula. If you can tell the difference between a hummingbird and an osprey this event may be for you.

The event is open to the public. If you have an interest in participating in the count, please contact Jeff Wright, the compiler for the count, at to register and be on the list for e-mail updates and educational information and materials related to this butterfly count. By registering you will also get information on sectors, teams, starting times, meeting places, etc.

The Inaugural Northumberland-Lancaster Butterfly Count was on 30 July - 33 participants in the count, identifying 38 species, and nearly 1,000 butterflies. Members of the Northern Neck Master Naturalists, Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists, and the Historic Rivers Master Naturalists participated as well as individuals from the public. Here is a picture Leslie Fellowstook of one of the more un-common species seen - a Viceroy Limenitis archippus.

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 George Washington Birthplace count the same 15 mile circle will be used that was established for the George Washington Birthplace Christmas Bird Count. The circle includes George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Westmoreland State Park, Stratford Hall, the nature Conservancy’s Voorhees Preserve, segments of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuges, the Town of Montross, the Fones Cliffs Area, Beverly Marsh, Wilmont Landing, farms, vineyards, nurseries, villages as well as various communities and land segments of four counties - Essex, King George, Richmond, and Westmorland as well as segments of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. Here is an image of the George Washington Birthplace Butterfly Count Circle.

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

I also recommend looking at the outstanding collection of photos of butterflies in Westmoreland County taken by Katharina Bergdoll that are posted in iNaturalist.

Many Master naturalists such as Leslie Fellows, Katharina Bergdoll, Porter Washington, Kyle Langford, Betsy Washington, Kevin Howe, and Ellen Crist to name a few (and I am sure many, many others) have used photography to record and identify many of the insects and in particular the butterflies found in Virginia’s Coastal Plain and in the counties of the Northern Neck.
Some very good pictures of butterflies - with correct IDs and scientific names! - appeared in journals of students in the 2019 Basic Training Class (BTC).
Please contact me if you have any questions.

Earlier Event: September 13
BioBlitz: Presquile NWR