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Flutter By, Butterflies

January 21, 1989|Clipboard researched by Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times. Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

The Xerces Society annual butterfly count is in its 14th year. Orange County joined the count for the first time in 1987, and repeated the count last year. Local counters recorded more species and more individuals than in 1987. For the 1987 survey, Orange County had the most participants out of 86 counts nationwide. The county also had five national highs for individual species: the common white (125 individuals); sylvan hairstreak (26); funeral dusky-wing skipper (16); fiery skipper (111) and wandering skipper (5).

Last year, 36 species of butterfly were counted. More species live in the county, but not all can be seen in a single count because they do not fly at the same time of year. Here's how the 1987 count compares to 1988:

THE XERCES SOCIETY: WHAT'S IN A NAMESAKE?

The Xerces Society, named for the extinct Xerces blue butterfly, is an international organization dedicated to the conservation of invertebrate species and their habitats. In addition to organizing the annual July 4 butterfly survey, the group publishes two journals, Wings and Atala. For information on the society, call (503) 222-2788 or write to the following address: Xerces Society, 10 Southwest Ash St., Portland, Oregon 97204.

The Xerces Society also sponsors the Monarch Project, which monitors the thousands of monarch butterflies that winter along the California coast. For information, write to Chris Nagano of the entomology section of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles 90007.

For information on local butterflies and the annual survey in Orange County, contact Peter Bryant, a professor of developmental biology at UC Irvine and a top local expert on insects: (714) 856-5957.

1987 1988 Number Number Species Seen Seen Western tiger swallowtail 10 10 Anise swallowtail 1 3 Alfalfa butterfly 3 31 Dainty dwarf sulfur 1 13 Common white 125 181 Cabbage white 97 389 Monarch 5 1 Queen 0 1 California ringlet 16 36 Gulf fritillary 5 11 West Coast lady 2 7 Painted lady 1 0 Virginia lady 0 1 Lorquin's admiral 4 3 Mourning cloak 26 37 Buckeye 87 83 Red admiral 5 66 Mormon metalmark 0 8 Dusky metalmark 1 1 Wright's metalmark 0 7 Pygmy blue 74 65 Marine blue 80 1 Square-spotted blue 0 6 Acmon blue 1 21 Sylvan hairstreak 26 30 Common hairstreak 13 31 California hairstreak 0 3 Field skipper 13 11 Funereal dusky-wing skipper 16 39 Fiery skipper 111 11 Eufala skipper 6 4 Woodland skipper 1 14 Wandering skipper 5 7 Umber skipper 10 20 Sandhill skipper 14 26 Checkered skipper 14 11 Giant skipper 0 4 TOTAL SPECIES 30 36 TOTAL INDIVIDUALS 773 1,193

Source: Larry Shaw, Xerces Society

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