October is just around the corner. I am seeing lots of reports from the field and note that the late season migrants appear to be showing up in good numbers this year, even if no Long-Tailed Skippers yet.
I am happy to announce that, although I remain permanently in absentia in Southern California, I plan to run the "October Derby" again this year [rules below]. It's always hard to predict how well we'll do. In 2017, we shattered our previous record year from 2012, and 2019 was a decent year based on our history: I challenge you to do better in 2020. Here's the history:
MBC [Collectively] Me [Personally]
2006 34 species 22 species
2007 37 species 24 species
2008 32 species 20 species
2009 26 species 12 species
2010 33 species 14 species
2011 33 species 17 species
2012 42 species* 23 species
2013 35 species** 21 species
2014 28-30 species n/a
2015 33 species*** n/a
2016 39 species n/a
2017 46.5 species**** n/a
2018 29 species***** n/a
2019 35 species****** n/a
*Plus two additional larvae [pipevine swallowtail + giant swallowtail] = 44!
**Plus three additional larvae [giant swallowtail + harvester + red-spotted purple] = 38
***Plus one additional larva [spicebush swallowtail] = 34
****Plus two additional larvae [Baltimore checkerspot + giant swallowtail] = 48.5
*****Plus two additional larvae [Baltimore checkerspot + giant swallowtail] + one additional chrysalis [spicebush swallowtail] = 32
******Plus three additional subadults [giant swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, Baltimore checkerspot] = 38
With luck [no early killer frost], the club should look to book at least 30 species. With a good showing of the migrant species and broad coverage of the state, another record year is not out of the question, though 2017 will be very tough to beat. In general, personal targets of 15 or 20 are reasonable, but require diligence. It's surprising how hard those last few species become.
To review the ground rules, on October 1, we wipe our species slates clean and see how many species we can turn up in Massachusetts during the month of October. All you need do is post your sightings here on the MBC Listserve, which most of you do anyway. I also check the Massachusetts Butterflies group on Facebook periodically. I'll keep score and provide updates, along with a final count at the end of the month.
This should be treated as a group project, purely for the fun of it. I'll be posting the aggregate MBC list only, not individual ones. [I don't even keep track of individual counts.] Because of budgetary limitations [namely no budget] there are no prizes, aside from our collective satisfaction in sending the 2020 butterfly season out with a bang.
Remember, the derby begins at the stroke of midnight as Wednesday, September 30 becomes Thursday, October 1. This year, October has three weekends. That should help boost the numbers a little. That, plus the fact many of us are not at work these days.
No need to send me separate communications [unless you don't post to MassLep] - I'll be monitoring the MassLep postings and issuing frequent updates.
Finally, FYI, I append the list of last year's October species, of which there were 38, counting the three subadults..
October 2019 Sightings List
[Through October 25]
Massachusetts Butterfly Club
Composite Listing [35 adults + 3 subadults = 38 species]
Baltimore Checkerspot [Larva]
Eastern Tailed Blue
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Giant Swallowtail [Larva]
Great Spangled Fritillary
Spicebush Swallowtail [Larva, Chrysalis]
Wild Indigo Duskywing