Youth Conservation Corps Assists with Southcoast Biodiversity Initiative

tiger-swallowtailThe Trustees of Reservations generously made available a Youth Conservation Corps eight-member team from New Bedford two days per week in July and August to gather data on insect diversity in the Slocum and Westport Rivers’ watersheds this past summer.

Corps team members collected insects at the Acushnet Cedar Swamp Reservation in New Bedford, Noquochoke Wildlife management Area in Dartmouth and Westport Town Farm, adding substantially to the number of species of flies, wasps and other insect groups documented in the two watersheds. Initially, several members were leery about catching wasps or bees lest they be stung, however most were completely over their fear after a few successful encounters and transfers from nets to the collecting jars.

Following a tutorial on common butterflies and the plants in the Lloyd center’s butterfly garden, team members spent an hour each day on August 6th, 7th and 14th tracking butterflies and day-flying sphinxes, and recording the number of nectaring events at each of the flowers in order to determine which plants were optimal for butterflies during early to mid-August. The accompanying table contains the results of their efforts.

The corps members recorded two sphinxes and ten species of butterflies that nectared 1,031 times during this period. Not surprisingly, butterfly bushes (Buddleia) attracted the highest number of both day-flying sphinx moths as well as butterflies. Interestingly, the pink and blue butterfly bush flowers attracted significantly more sphinxes than the other colors, however butterflies were somewhat more catholic in their tastes, particularly utilizing the light purple and magenta flowers. The sphinxes were by far the most avid feeders, nectaring 887 times, or 86% of all nectaring events. Their feeding habit of nectaring while in flight and spending only a brief moment at each flower was the main reason for the abundance of records for these species.

Click for full size image

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We thank supervisors Kathryn and Cyrena, as well as the team members for all their efforts, and wish them the best of luck in the future. The Lloyd Center is also thankful for the collaboration with the Trustees, facilitated through the efforts of Linton Harrington and Eli Powell.