By Andrew Zachman, General Ecology Technician
This time of year, caterpillars can be found crawling across roadways, chewing on the last of the green leaves, and inching along tree trunks. We pay attention to these juvenile forms of butterflies and moths, because with their soft and nutritious bodies, caterpillars are a particularly important source of food for nestling birds.
Schoodic Institute participates in Caterpillars Count!, a citizen science project to monitor the phenology of caterpillars as well as spiders, and beetles and other insects. The study is designed to evaluate how a changing climate affects the timing of spring leaf out, insect activity, and bird migration and breeding. If the timing of insect activity and presence doesn’t coincide with the timing of bird nesting and migration, there could be negative consequences on bird populations. If there are changes in insect phenology, are birds responding?
Volunteers visit eight sites across the Schoodic Peninsula and record insects present on the trees, using a mobile application from the Caterpillars Count! team or paper data sheets. We are currently looking for new counters!
For more information or to volunteer, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.