Bald Head Island Conservancy

First-Ever BioBlitz Invites Community Scientists to Discover Butterflies and Biodiversity

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From September 23rd-25th, the Bald Head Island Conservancy hosted its first ever Pollinator Party, a weekend dedicated to some of the smallest, but most important members of our Bald Head Island communities. Guests enjoyed pollinator-themed exhibits in Fleming Environmental Education Center throughout the event, viewing close-ups of butterfly wings and wildflowers upon arrival using the Conservancy’s DinoLite handheld microscopes. The Conservancy displayed a “visiting” ambassador animal enclosure of their growing Painted Lady caterpillars; guests were able to watch their metamorphosis as they entered chrysalis and then hatched. The Conservancy released the Painted Ladies following Hurricane Ian, and they could be seen fluttering and pollinating around campus for the next week.

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One of the Painted Lady hatchlings resting on the Conservancy campus

Guests discovered and learnt about the important roles butterflies play in nature and some of the threats that they face, along with how we can help provide for and protect our pollinators. They also discovered why Bald Head Island Conservancy is called a North Carolina Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, an honor bestowed to the campus because of the Conservancy’s commitment to providing safe spaces for wildlife, especially pollinators. Back inside Fleming building, there were educational coloring pages featuring our migratory butterflies – Monarch, Gulf Fritillary, and Cloudless Sulphur – a seashell butterfly craft, a timelapse of hummingbirds (another familiar pollinator) feeding on nectar, and fun for all. 

The Conservancy’s main event was their first ever BioBlitz. A BioBlitz is a community science project hosted on the iNaturalist app which invites community members of all ages to experience the biodiversity in their area. Participants were encouraged to discover nature spaces such as the North Carolina Reserve Bald Head Woods, the Commons at Cape Fear Station, and the Kent Mitchell Trail. While the BioBlitz was centered on identifying butterflies, it also encouraged participants to discover our beautiful biodiversity on Bald Head Island, garnering dozens of observations of flora and fauna alike throughout the event. The Conservancy ended the festivities with a guided nature walk, where participants were able to try their hands at ethical butterfly netting and see Cloudless Sulphurs and Gulf Fritillaries up-close. 

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Coastal Educator, Tim Chisholm, shows a participant how to safely remove a butterfly from a net

Over 260 guests attended the first-ever Pollinator Party and over 20 assisted the Conservancy in collecting valuable data about our pollinator populations on Bald Head Island. The Conservancy hopes to offer this event annually and continue monitoring our migratory butterfly populations and providing safe pollinator spaces for them, especially the endangered Monarch, who utilizes Bald Head Island as a resting spot mid-migration. 

You can continue identifying butterflies all season with the iNaturalist app, which is available for free on the App Store. iNaturalist identifications aid scientists with research and conservation efforts at the Conservancy and around the globe. 

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