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The frosted elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus) is a locally rare Lycaenaid with spotty distribution throughout the eastern United States. As host plant specialists, frosted elfins only lay eggs on two plant species. Yellow wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), one of the host plants for this species, is found in abundance at Gavins Pond (Foxboro MA). Since 2000, Massachusetts Butterfly Club members have been informally monitoring the frosted elfin population at this site; however, no systematic population surveys have been done. Using their data, I estimated annual population size from 2000 to 2022. In 2022, I also performed a mark-release-recapture study in 20 patches of indigo at Gavins Pond. I used my mark-recapture data to more accurately estimate population size, calculate daily survival of the species, and understand suspected territorial behavior. During the flight season, I walked the site as frequently as weather allowed. During these surveys, I marked captured butterflies and collected data on location, wing-wear, etc. I captured a total of 16 unique individuals with 17 recaptures, and I observed that few individuals seemed to express territoriality. These data show a strong need for conservation efforts to help restore the dwindling frosted elfin population at Gavins Pond. Summer research funded by the Southeastern New England Educational and Charitable Foundation, presented at the RI Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium


Providence College


Summer 8-18-2022








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