There are a lot of things you can do with a Saturday afternoon in July. Counting butterflies is one of them.
If you would like to be part of the North American Butterfly Association Count, you need to grab a phone right now and call 785-539-8761 because today is the last day to register to participate. Calling today will ensure that the sponsors of the event, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Manhattan Plant Materials Center have enough materials and handouts to supply everybody.
The count will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and those attending should bring a sack lunch, water, bug spray, binoculars, field guides, and camera. Dress for the weather conditions, which the National Weather Service advises are likely to be hot, pushing 100 degrees. Attendees at the event will be on their own for transportation.
The annual count program is intended to promote interest in butterflies and provide results useful for scientific monitoring of this beautiful and fascinating group of insects.
While most people are drawn to butterflies because they are graceful and pretty, Rich Synia, PMC manager, says that what butterfly lovers seldom realize is the vital role that the insects play as pollinators, consumers and food sources for other animals in the ecosystem.
Volunteers who want to county butterflies should meet at the PMC in Manhattan and from there will get instructions on how to participate in the count. The count area covers a 15-mile diameter circle with the PMC, Konza Prairie, and Manhattan. Due to the size of the survey area, PMC staff will organize volunteers to cover as much area as possible. More information about the butterfly count is available at the North American Butterfly Association website.
Those attending the event will also learn more about the PMC and its purpose of developing plants for conservation and have the opportunity to see some of the pollinator projects at the PMC. More information about the PMC is available here.
From Manhattan: From Fort Riley Blvd. or Tuttle Creek Blvd. (east side of Manhattan by Manhattan Town Center Mall) cross the Kansas River Bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right on Riley Co. 901-McDowell Creek Road, travel 6.0 miles, turn right on Riley Co. 424. Follow Riley Co. 424, 3 miles north and 1 mile west to the PMC.
From I-70: Travelers on I-70 should exit 307-McDowell Creek Road Interchange. Eastbound travelers should turn left, westbound travelers should turn right on Riley Co. 901-McDowell Creek Road, travel 3.6 miles to west 40th Avenue, turn left and travel 3 miles north to PMC.