Boise Front Fourth of July Butterfly Count

The Xerces Society, a non-profit invertebrate conservation group, initiated the Fourth of July Butterfly Count in 1968, basing it on the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. In 1995 the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) took over the administration of the annual counts. The Boise Front Count started in 1991.

The results of the Boise Front Count are submitted to NABA, which prints an annual report of species and numbers seen for each Count. The field notes and compiled Boise Front tallies are placed on file at the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History at The College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID. Any specimens collected during the Boise Front Count are placed in the collection at the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History.

The goal of the butterfly count team is to identify as many of the butterflies found as possible. Usually this means the butterfly is captured in a net and held there carefully while team members determine its identity. The butterfly is then generally released. But often butterflies appear when all the nets are occupied or fly out of reach so that positive identification to species is difficult if not impossible. Many of the butterflies successfully netted are easily confused with other species. And not everyone on the butterfly count team is an expert at identifying butterflies. So here is the key used for the Boise Front Butterfly Count. It is greatly simplified to aid in making quick, correct identifications.

A list of all the species covered by the key is included, offering a quick path to the species pages. The key currently covers the most common species found. If the butterfly you are trying to identify doesn't seem to be in the key, it probably means that it's an uncommon resident of the Boise Front during the time of the count. Temperature range and precipitation in the weeks prior to the Count Day dramatically affect which butterflies are seen on the Boise Front.

What You Need for a Successful Count Day

Bring along lots of water. Since you will drive to each location, keep extra bottles in the car. Sturdy hiking shoes are handy for Mores Mountain; the other locations can be easily negotiated in tennis shoes or sandals. A good hat helps keep the sun out of your eyes and aids in preventing a sunburned neck. Lots of suntan lotion helps, too. Pack your favorite lunch for a relaxing break near the top of Bogus Basin. A butterfly net is really necessary: it's too hard to catch butterflies without one.

All photographs and images are copyrighted by Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History and may not be reused without prior written permission.