Rain helps Georgia's butterfly population - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Rain helps Georgia's butterfly population

 August 1, 2003

(Albany-AP) -- When butterfly enthusiasts spot an American Lady, they're often ogling through binoculars. That's the way it is with buttlerfly watching.

Armed with binoculars, sunscreen and insect repellant, enthusiasts scour the countryside each summer in search of American Ladies, Fiery Skippers, Eastern Tigers and about 160 other butterfly species that live in Georgia.

This year, they are elated that the butterfly population appears to have rebounded from a four-year drought that deprived the colorful, fluttering insects of habitat and the nourishing nectar they sip from flowers.

Butterflies are important because they indicate the health of the environment, similar to the canaries that miners carried deep into the earth to detect deadly gases.

Jerry Payne, a nature lover from Lizella, near Macon, takes part in several of the eight butterfly counts held around the state each year, usually around the Fourth of July. Results from the 494 counts nationwide are reported to the North American Butterfly Association, which works to increase enjoyment and conservation of the insects.

Enthusiasts climb north Georgia slopes and slog along soggy riverbanks near Macon to count butterflies in 15-mile circles. Georgia's final count of the year is scheduled this month in the Okefenokee Swamp. Payne said "If you go on a butterfly count in Georgia, you're going to get ticks or mosquitoes. It's just what hunters put up with. But outdoor wildlife observation is the fastest-growing activity in the United States. The only thing bigger is the joggers and walkers."


posted at 11:20 AM  by dave.miller@walb.com

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