Four decades later a dedicated group of nature lovers still gathers annually to contribute to the national butterfly census – and the public is invited to join in its trip to the country, which has been moved from Saturday, July 1, to Sunday, July 2.
University of Louisville biology professor emeritus Charles Covell and other butterfly specialists will lead the local count and teach volunteers how to identify the winged insects they spy in the fields and woods of UofL’s Horner Wildlife Sanctuary and other nearby property in Oldham County.
The experts will supply nets but counters also can use cameras, binoculars and notebooks to gather information. Children and adults are welcome.
The count will be done in a specified area from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., although participants can leave when they wish. Covell suggests that participants wear sturdy hiking shoes, hats, long pants and long-sleeved shirts and bring lunch, water, suncreen and insect repellent.
Volunteer counters of all ages should meet at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Sugar Babe Antiques, 7511 Highway 329 in Crestwood, about one mile northwest of Interstate 71’s Exit 14 and about 20 miles north of Louisville.
Last year, 30 volunteers counted 965 from 39 species adding to the 39-year total of 70 species with more than 32,000 butterflies tabulated.
Although Covell retired in 2004 from UofL, he has continued to lead the annual local count. He now works as an adjunct curator for the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity in Gainesville, Florida.
Covell and Richard Henderson of Louisville co-founded the Society of Kentucky Lepidopterists for the study of butterflies and moths in 1974. Covell wrote “Butterflies and Moths of Kentucky” and the 1984 Peterson “Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America.”