Butterfly Survey

This guide is designed to provide a pictoral reference to the butterflies of Rice Creek Field Station, a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York College at Oswego. The format used was developed in 2004 to prepare study aids for introductory biology students doing field projects at the Field Station. The guide contains photographs and information on all species of butterflies and skippers recorded from the grounds of Rice Creek Field Station as of the date listed on the title page. The information and photographs come from yearly inventories begun in 1996 by Prof. Peter G. Weber of the Department of Biological Sciences at SUNY Oswego assisted by Nicholas F. A. Weber and Michael Holy. A few species have been recorded once only from a single observation that afforded no opportunity for photography. Future editions of this guide will be updated to detail the changing status of known species and to include any new species found on the property.

How to Use this Guide

If you wish to identify a butterfly you have seen at Rice Creek:

Go to Butterfly Species. Scroll through the pictures to find a match for your specimen. If you know the family or genus to which the butterfly belongs, follow the link from the index in the left frame of the page. Following links from family, subfamily, and species names in the main body of the flora will lead to comments and descriptions that may help in identification.

If you wish to look up a butterfly you know by name:

Go to Butterfly Species and find the name of your butterfly in the list in the left hand frame of the page. Use the link to go to the pictures of that species to confirm your identification.

Descriptions and occurrences:

The species name given for each illustration is linked to a brief description and discussion of that species. Additional detailed information can be acquired from the references listed below.

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Ecology and Environment of Rice Creek Field Station

The mature upland forest of the Oswego area includes maple-basswood forests which are most common on the Lake Ontario coastal plain and beech-maple communities which are widespread in New York State. Well drained soils may also support stands of Appalachian oak-hickory forest. Red maple-hardwood swamp is the most common wetland forest type. The landscape in the vicinity of the city of Oswego contains small patches of mature woods and wetlands intermixed with successional woodlands, shrub lands, fields, agricultural properties, and rural and suburban residential areas. Oswego itself is a port city located on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Oswego River. The Oswego River drains one of the largest watersheds in New York State. A unique area of drumlin topography extends west from Oswego through neighboring Cayuga, Wayne, and Seneca Counties. Along the shore of Lake Ontario this topography has eroded to form bluffs alternating with a series of interdrumlin wetlands consisting of bays, lagoons, marshes, swamps, and fens. Eastern and northern Oswego County contains one of the largest collections of wetland habitats in New York State. The county also includes transitional habitats marking the outer reaches of the Tug Hill Plateau. A unique area of coastal sand dunes extends along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario from Oswego County north into Jefferson County.

Rice Creek Field Station (RCFS) is located about 2.4 km (1.5 mi.) south of Lake Ontario. Local weather conditions are strongly influenced by Lake Ontario with cool to warm summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature is 8-9 degrees C (45 degrees F) and the average annual precipitation is about 90 cm (36 in). Typical manifestations of the influence of the lake on local climate are late autumns, late springs, and lake-effect snowfall. The Field Station occupies approximately 130 ha (300 acres) of varied habitats, including open fields, mature forests, shrub lands, and woods representing several stages of succession. A drumlin situated along the eastern edge of the properties reaches an elevation of approximately 123 m (405 ft) above sea level. A 10.4 ha (26 acre) pond at 82 m (270 ft) was formed by the construction of a dam on Rice Creek at the time the Field Station was established. Marshes and floodplain forests surround much of the pond and extend upstream and downstream along Rice Creek.

Most of the Field Station properties were in pastures, hay fields, or orchards when SUNY Oswego acquired them in the early 1960's. An area of old growth hardwood forest, probably maintained as a farm woodlot, remained on the western flank of the drumlin in the northern part of the properties. Conifer plantations were established as the Field Station was being developed. Other areas were allowed to proceed through the initial stages of secondary succession characteristic of the region, augmented by the introduction of certain European and Asian trees and shrubs as was the common theme of wildlife management at the time. Most of the second growth vegetation on the property is now thirty to forty years old. By 1983, it was apparent that maintenance of open habitat, with its associated plants and animals, would not be possible without occasional mowing to control the development of trees and shrubs. Necessary clearing was done and three fields were established, one on the outlet channel of Rice Pond (the "Lower Field"), one on level land near the top of the drumlin (the "Upper Field"), and one on the slopes of the western flank of the drumlin (the "Middle Field"). These areas, along with a few smaller clearings, are maintained by mowing with a brush hog on a four year rotation. A system of foot trails is maintained to provide access to different areas of the property for research, education, recreation, and management. Current management practices are aimed at the maintenance of maximum habitat diversity and, to the extent possible, management and control of non-native invasive species.

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Butterfly Surveys at Rice Creek

Butterfly surveys at Rice Creek Field Station were initiated in 1996 by Peter G. Weber, then a professor in the Department of Biology at SUNY Oswego. Pete was assisted by his son, Nicholas F. Weber, and by Michael Holy, science teacher at Hannibal High School and an alumnus of SUNY Oswego. Mike has continued this monitoring effort since Peter's retirement and move to Colorado in 2009.

Monitoring consisted of counting each butterfly encountered within 5 meters on either side of permanent transects along the trails and in the open fields and meadows at the Field Station. The total length of transects sampled exceeded 5,500 meters. Butterflies not previously encountered and those difficult to identify to species were photographed to provide a permanent voucher record for verification of occurrence and to aid in identification. Transects were sampled weekly from the onset of sampling in April or May, weekly or twice weekly (depending on the year) during the main part of the season (mid May or June through mid to late August), and again weekly until the end of October. Detailed reports on the results of the surveys conducted in 1996 - 1999 are filed at Rice Creek Field Station (Weber & Weber 1997, 1998, 1999; Weber & Holy 2001).

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Every known organism is assigned a scientific or Latin name. This name consists of two words, the first being the Latin name of the genus to which the species belongs and the second being a "specific epithet" unique among the species of that genus. Many people find scientific or Latin names of plants and animals difficult to use. The words are unfamiliar, dificult to pronounce, and of questionable meaning except to scholars of Latin. However, there are some distinct adantages to the use of scientific names as opposed to local, common, or colloquial names:

  1. The scientific name of a species is used consistently by biologists everywhere in the world while common names may vary from region to region.
  2. There are set procedures used by biologists throughout the world for the adoption and use of scientific names.
  3. Scientific names provide information on taxonomic and presumed evolutionary relationships of similar species (they indicate the genus to which the species belongs).
  4. There are agreed upon rules for resolving differences of opinion as to the validity of a scientific name.

There are two circumstances which may lead different biologists to employ different Latin names for the same species:

  1. Two (or more) different people may have named the species, each ignorant of the other's work. In this case, the earliest name applied is accepted as correct, presuming its derivation and application are consistent with accepted procedure. The other name(s) is then considered to be a synonym. This applies mostly to older names put in use before the wide and rapid exchange of information in print and digital form.
  2. New data and new interpretations may lead to a changed understanding of taxonomic relationships resulting in the merging or splitting of genera or species. In this case, new names may supercede those provided in commonly used manuals and texts. Again, names no longer used are cited as synonyms.

Nomenclature in this presentation follows the Checklist of North American Butterflies Occurring North of Mexico (North American Butterfly Association 2001). Synonyms used in standard field guides are provided in the species descriptions.

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The photographs used here were taken by Nicholas F. A. Weber, Peter G. Weber, and Michael Holy. They are the property of the photographers who retain sole rights to their commercial use. A total of 954 photographs taken in the course of the butterfly survey are archived as digital images at Rice Creek Field Station and are available for non-commercial use.

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Financial support for the survey of butterflies at Rice Creek Field Station was provided by Rice Creek Associates and the Division of Continuing Education and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at SUNY Oswego.

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Cassie, Brian, Jeffrey Glassberg, Ann Swengel, and Guy Tudor. 2001. North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Checklist & English Names of North American Butterflies (2nd ed.). North American Butterfly Association, Morristown, NJ. (Contents and Introduction. Accessed 3/8/2010.).

Holland, W. J. 1930. The Butterfly Book (rev. ed.). New York, Doubleday. 424 pgs. + 77 plates.

Klots, A. B. 1951. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of North America, East of the Great Plains. The Peterson Field Guide Series. Boston, Houghton Mifflin. 349 pgs.

North American Butterfly Association. 2001. Checklist of North American Butterflies Occurring North of Mexico. Accessed 3/8/2010.

North American Butterfly Association. 2010. North American Butterfly Association. Accessed 3/8/2010.

Opler, Paul A., Kelly Lotts, and Thomas Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Bozeman, MT, Big Sky Institute. (Version March 22, 2010).

Pyle, Robert Michael. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies (9th printing, 1994). New York, Alfred A. Knopf. 924 pgs.

Shapiro, A. M. 1974. The Butterflies and Skippers of New York State. Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University. 59 pgs.

Wagner, David L. 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton, Princeton University Press. 512 pgs.

Weber, Nicholas F. A. and Peter G. Weber. 1997. Butterfly Populations at Rice Creek Field Station: A Progress Report. pp. 1-10 In: Nelson, A. P., 1997. Rice Creek Research Reports, 1996. Rice Creek Research Reports. Rice Creek Field Station, Oswego State University, Oswego, N. Y.

Weber, Nicholas F. A. and Peter G. Weber. 1998. Butterfly Populations at Rice Creek Field Station: The 1997 Season. pp. 1-15 In: Nelson, A. P., 1998. Rice Creek Research Reports, 1997. Rice Creek Research Reports. Rice Creek Field Station, Oswego State University, Oswego, N. Y.

Weber, Peter G. and Nicholas F. A. Weber. 1999. Butterfly Populations at Rice Creek Field Station: The 1998 Season. pp. 25-35 In: Nelson, A. P., 1999. Rice Creek Research Reports, 1998. Rice Creek Research Reports. Rice Creek Field Station, Oswego State University, Oswego, NY.

Weber, Peter G. and Michael Holy. 2001. Butterfly Populations at Rice Creek Field Station, 1999 Season. pp. 4-10 In: Nelson, A. P., 2001. Rice Creek Research Reports, 1999 - 2000. Rice Creek Research Reports. Rice Creek Field Station, Oswego State University, Oswego, NY.

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