Gunther Invites Local Schools to Help Name Official New York State Butterfly
Elementary school students urged to participate in statewide contest

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) called on local 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students to participate in a contest to help decide the name of New York State's butterfly. Once the name is picked, legislation will be drafted and the Legislature will vote to officially adopt a New York State butterfly.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our youngsters to become involved with the legislative process in New York, while having fun at the same time," Gunther said. "It gives students an idea of what voting is all about because they will be given the opportunity to cast a vote for their butterfly - much like the process in an election. Also, children will learn more about the butterfly, which is one of our state's most unique species."

Gunther explained that her office will provide each school with a picture and paragraph describing five different butterflies found in New York - the Black Swallowtail, the Karner Blue Butterfly, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, the Mourning Cloak and the Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral. Students in schools that choose to participate will review the information and cast a vote for the butterfly that they feel is worthy of becoming the state butterfly. After all schools send their final tallies to her office, Gunther will provide a grand total from the 98th Assembly District to be included with results from other schools across the state. The winner will be announced by the end of November.

For more information about the contest or to request butterfly information, contact Assemblywoman Gunther's office at 794-5807.

List of Butterfly Nominees:

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail-

This butterfly is part of the Parnassians and Swallowtail families. The males perch and patrol for receptive females. The coloring of both the butterfly and its caterpillar are very showy, and they have two broods, adult flight periods, per year in New York State. As a caterpillar it feeds on carrots, parsley, and dill, making them easily attracted to gardens. Its habitat tends to be suburbs, fields, marshes, and roadsides.

Karner Blue Butterfly

Karner Blue Butterfly-

The Karner Blue butterfly has become an emblem of an endangered species since 1992, because of its restrictive habitat that has been dwindling due to such things as land development. Michigan and Ohio have plans to re-establish the Blue Karner in different parts of their state. It is roughly the size of a postage stamp, the male being blue with black and white and the female having more brown and grayish colorings. The butterflies host plant is the wild lupine in open savannas and cleared areas.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Milbert's Tortoiseshell-

Milbert's Tortoiseshell is found in the northern part of New York State, as it is very adaptable being able to live in urban or rural areas. It is viewable for much, if not most, of the non-winter seasons, May-October, because it lives through the winter as a butterfly. This butterfly is part of the Brush footed butterfly family and like the Black Swallowtail it has two broods per year. They can be seen perching on hillsides, logs, or behind bushes, and tend to be very colorful.

Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak-

The Mourning Cloak is a medium to large size distinctive butterfly, showing off brown and black wings with yellow boarder and blue spots. It is the first butterfly one sees in the spring and the last one to disappear in the fall. It tends to perch on high objects and is seen in cities and villages throughout New York State. In England, its common name is the "Camberwell Beauty." The common name of this butterfly has been spelled in a variety of ways-- "Morning Cloak", "Mourning Cloak" and "Morningcloak." The approved standardized common name (established by the Entomological Society of America) is none of these, but rather "Mourningcloak".


Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral -

This butterfly can be seen statewide, the red-spotted form in the southern areas of the state, adapted to a different coloring to survive in this area, and the white form in the northern areas, the older of the two form; there are two forms, but essentially one species. It is a "mud-puddling" butterfly, lapping up sodium ions at mud puddles. It is in the family of brush-footed butterflies, Latin name is nymphalidae. New York has an acceptable habitat to both forms allowing for a significant population of each, which is unique.

Nominees and information gathered from and research from Tim McCabe, Ph.D., State Entomologist and John Fortino, Butterfly House Coordinator Hershey Gardens.