The Cumberland Times-News Tue Jun 28, 2011, 10:53 PM EDT
DEEP CREEK LAKE — Hot and steamy— that’s how butterflies like their weather. With the exception of the wind Tuesday, the weather was just the right amount of heat and humidity for a butterfly sighting at Deep Creek Lake State Park.
“Flutterbys and Flowers,” a program offered by the park, attracted a handful of people of all ages interested in learning about plants, butterflies and what the two have in common.
Bird watchers may awake at dawn to catch a glimpse of the birds, but butterfly watchers can sleep in since the insects come out during the midday heat. Caroline Blizzard, ranger and naturalist at the park, finds this aspect most appealing.
“You won’t see me at a bird walk at 4 in the morning,” Blizzard said to her group of butterfly watchers, commending those who had also gone on a bird walk at 8 a.m.
As Blizzard pointed out, unlike birds, butterflies are silent, which makes the search for the insect more difficult. But plants are one way to see butterflies up close and personal.
The group headed toward the banks of flowers around the parking lot, surrounded by milkweed, Black-Eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s Lace. These are all common plants that attract butterflies, according to Blizzard.
“Oh my gosh! Come here,” Blizzard said as 15 heads looked to the milkweed plants. She had found a milkweed bug.
Another plant, the butterfly bush, attracts all sorts of butterfly species. This seems like an ideal way to see all kind of butterflies, but Blizzard compares the butterfly bush to a bar where all the drunk butterflies gather.
After a few laughs from the adults in the group, Blizzard changed the comparison to a fast-food restaurant for the younger participants. Just like there are healthier eating options for humans, there are better plants for butterflies, Blizzard said.
The plants are all native to Maryland. About 10 years ago, the park staff saw the need for native plants and planted a section at Herrington Manor State Park. Now, the plants are planted throughout the state parks, according to Blizzard.
One of the most commonly seen butterflies is one that the park raises — the monarch. The park staff raises them during the summer before their migration to Mexico for the winter. A local school tags and names the butterflies to keep track of their travels and arrivals in Mexico.
Skipper butterflies were also seen in abundance Tuesday. Named after their quick flight habits, there are several different species of the skipper butterfly, so many that Blizzard couldn’t name or identify each one.
Jacob and Ruby Feuertein of Lewisburg, Pa., enjoyed the program on butterflies, which gave them “something to do” while vacationing at the lake with their family. Jacob’s favorite part of the program was “seeing the butterflies.”
His sister agreed. “I liked how we could get really close to the butterflies,” she said.
For more park programs and a calendar of events for all Maryland state parks, go to http://www.dnr.maryland.gov.
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