Annual Butterfly Count Honors Dorothy Hoard

Photo of local butterfly. Courtesy/PEEC
Local butterfly lands on a flower. Courtesy/PEEC

PEEC News:

This year marks the 22nd Annual Butterfly Count in Los Alamos County, but this year the count carries a special meaning.

This is the first count since the passing of Living Treasure Dorothy Hoard, who initiated the Los Alamos County annual butterfly counts more than 20 years ago. As such, the annual butterfly count will from now on be known as the “Dorothy Hoard Memorial Butterfly Count.”

New Mexico butterfly guru Steve Cary will lead this year’s count 9 a.m. to roughly 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8.

Cary will identify butterflies and discuss their habits and life histories with count participants. Butterflies in three different habitats will be counted – mesa top, streamside and high altitude. The count will begin at 9 a.m. at Burnt Mesa in Bandelier on N.M. 4. 

The group will move on to Cañon de Valle on N.M. 501 (West Jemez Road), expecting to arrive at about 10:30 a.m. At around noon, the group will go up to Camp May to have lunch and continue counting until 3:30 p.m. Those interested in taking part are welcome to come and go as they please within that schedule. No experience is necessary to participate.

In advance, Roy Michelotti will give a talk at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5 at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) entitled “Butterflies You Might See in Los Alamos, and Some Fun Facts About Butterflies.” Michelotti will discuss butterflies present in Los Alamos County, primarily those seen during recent Los Alamos annual butterfly counts. He also will present an overview of basic butterfly biology, behavior, life cycles and some fun and unique facts about butterflies.

The talk is free to attend, and the cost to participate in the count is $5 for adults. It is free for children under 18. No registration is required for either program though it is encouraged for the count.

Born and raised in the upper Midwest, Cary earned his B.S. and M.S. from the Geography Department at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He arrived in New Mexico in 1980 and began a 30-year career in environmental protection and natural resource management. Butterflies have always been Cary’s passion, and he has published scientific and popular articles on these amazing creatures.

Through countless walks and talks around the state, he has become New Mexico’s unofficial Butterfly Guy. New Mexico Magazine published his book, Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico, in 2009. After concluding his career in New Mexico State government in 2010, Cary is now the operations and resource manager at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe.

Roy Michelotti was introduced to butterflies more than 25 years ago by renowned lepidopterist and natural-history author Robert Michael Pyle, author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, Chasing Monarchs and many other award winning books. Michelotti has participated in most of the Los Alamos County butterfly counts, and he has chased butterflies from California to Maine.

For more information about these and other PEEC programs, and to register for the count, visit email or call 505.662.0460.