By: David Bennett, Volunteer Trip LeaderButterflyOn a beautiful morning in Mt Washington’s Emerald View Park, 11 Venture Outdoors participants and leaders gathered to take part in the North American Butterfly Association’s National Butterfly Count. Joseph Reznik, a local Biologist, helped to organize and lead the count, which he calls an expression of Citizen Science. It’s exciting when ordinary people gather to learn the science of sustainability and also know that the data they collect will be aggregated in a national database that will help scientists learn more about how to protect butterfly species.  Butterflies are very sensitive to environmental changes and are good early indicators of environmental problems. They are excellent barometers of potential declining wildlife and plant populations.
Butterfly1Emerald View Park Manager, Judith Koch, welcomed the participants to 257-acre urban park.  Judith explained that Emerald View is the newest of the Pittsburgh City Parks, and she was excited to take part in an inventory of butterfly species within the park. In June of 2014, the park hosted a BioBlitz event, and the Butterfly Count was an excellent chance to focus and extend our awareness of butterfly species. “Seeing people getting engaged with Emerald View Park as citizen scientists is exciting and a great way for the MWCDC to encourage exploring more of the park and to increase awareness about the possibilities that Emerald View Park has to offer to residents and visitors of Mount  Washington,” said Koch.
Reznik began the event by teaching the group basic techniques for capturing and identifying butterflies.  Once the butterfly is caught in the net, it can be safely transferred to a glass jar for more careful observation.  We were able to capture and release 6 unique species of butterflies during the course of the morning, plus we learned how butterflies sometimes formed unique ecosystems with specific plan species.
Butterfly2Here is the species count from the event, which will be submitted to the Natio nal Butterfly Count at: http://www.naba.org/butter_counts.html
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail: 1
Cabbage White: 4
Sulfur: 2
Dun Skipper: 1
European skipper: 1
White Admiral: 1
Total Individuals: 10
Total Species: 6

The data will become even more valuable if we continue the count over a number of years, so it’s great that Venture Outdoors will be offering the walk again in July of 2016.
Explore Emerald View Park and it’s avian inhabitants on Venture Outdoors’s Autumn Bird ID Walk on Saturday, October 11 from 8am – 11am in partnership with MWCDC.