July 29, 2010

The Regal Fritillary Butterfly on Bergamot


Or is it a REGAL Fritillary?

      This year, my yard has a spectacular, albeit it small, display of bee balm, a.k.a. bergamot. The blooms are light purple, with a smattering of red blossoms mixed in.

     Flittering about this bee balm are numerous brightly colored orange-with-black-and-silver Regal fritillary butterflies.

      On February 28, 1996, this species was moved from the endangered species list to the federal species of concern list.


     The original range of the Regal fritillary butterfly extended north from Oklahoma, then east from Montana and Colorado to the central east coast. Once, it was common in the natural grasslands, pastures, and wet meadows of the northeastern United States. However, in 2010, it can no longer be found in most of New England or the Ohio Valley. There are only scattered populations in the southeastern and south-central counties of North Dakota, and in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in southeastern North Dakota.

     Today, the only northeastern place where its exuberant flight can be observed is located on two hundred and nineteen acres at Fort Indiantown Gap, a National Guard Training Site in Pennsylvania. Another seventy-five acres forms a dispersal corridor.


     The Fort contracted with the Pennsylvania Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to assist in caring for this last Regal fritillary habitat. In January 1998 the Conservancy placed a project manager on the base to assist the National Guard’s efforts to protect this butterfly. In 2006, the Conservancy transferred its research and monitoring efforts to (more…)

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