The project, to be spearheaded by GCFM 1st VP Judith Tarbox, will have us approach our State Legislature to ask them to name the White Admiral our State butterfly. Currently we have a State bird (Black-capped Chickadee), a State tree (Eastern White Pine), and a State flower (the pine cone).
The Board decided on the White Admiral because the Maine Butterfly Survey (http://mbs.umf.maine.edu/
) had also chosen this particular butterfly as its symbol. The survey was a seven-year project of the Wildlife Resource Assessment Section of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Colby College, and the University of Maine at Farmington. Sponsors of the project included the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the University of Maine at Farmington, Colby College, the Maine State Museum, The Nature Conservancy, and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The purpose of naming the White Admiral is to increase public awareness and appreciation of our native species and habitats in Maine. The White Admiral is a northern butterfly, its habitat being northern forests, especially near water and open areas, which makes it a common butterfly throughout our State. It flies from June through September and feeds on old fruit, sap, and decaying matter, while females come to flowers for nectar. The female lays a single egg on the extreme tip of a fresh host plant leaf. Host plants include willows, birch, poplar, wild cherry, aspen, hawthorn, and serviceberry (shad). They overwinter in Maine as a caterpillar, curled up in a folded leaf. The caterpillar looks like bird poop which discourages predators from trying to eat it. The name depicts the pattern of the white stripe resembling that of an admiral's shield.
This article was submitted by Pat Snyder, a seven-year participant in the Maine Butterfly Survey and a member of the Orrington Garden Club.