Unlike populations further to the north, swamp metalmark butterflies in southern Indiana have two generations annually. The second one flies in mid August. Last year, members of my department visited and found dozens of individuals, the largest population we have yet encountered. A couple of weeks ago, I returned for some further work with this population. My goals were:
1. Do a mark/release/recapture study, incorporating GPS to measure dispersal rates of the species
2. Obtain a few specimens to test for an insect pathogen called Wolbachia
3. Obtain females from which to obtain eggs in order to try to develop methods to hold larvae from this species over the winter
This year, I went down with Andy. a member of the horticultural staff at the museum. We had beautiful weather, but were disappointed to find far fewer metalmarks than we did last summer. We were unable to complete the dispersal study, but did manage to to GPS mapping of the capture location of the 18 or so specimens that we marked. Having been able to mark very few individuals, we recaptured only one. No statistical analysis possible here. Still we got four females and have a bunch of eggs in the lab. We also have sufficient material for Wolbachia testing.
Although we found few metalmarks, we did see lots of other butterflies, including three lifers for me: Hoary-edged Skipper, Goatweed Butterfly, and Gemmed Satyr.