Friday, April 11, 2014

Early Season Butterflies- West Virginia White

April is not too soon to be looking for butterflies.  In fact, a very special butterfly- the globally vulnerable West Virginia White needs your help.  Several organization are conducting studies in which you might want to participate.  I am attaching two letters and a couple of my photos of last years West Virginia Whites.  Yes, they look a bit like the Common White, but they have no black spots.  They also use native plants for a host plant, and studies show the invasive Garlic Mustard plant is VERY BAD for them.  Learn more in the video below.     This video will teach you more about the West Virginia White.

I hope you will be watching for the West Virginia Whites and report back to either Dave or Samantha. Their letters are attached below.   Thanks for helping us! Weedpicker Cheryl

Dear West Virginia White surveyors,

Thank you for all your help surveying for the Globally Vulnerable West Virginia White butterfly on or near Museum Natural Areas!

WVWs typically emerge mid-April as long as the weather stays warm (above 60*F with clear skies) and fly to mid-May, basically as long as there are dense stands of blooming wildflowers, especially host plant cut-leaved and two-leaved toothworts and later blooming wild geranium stands.  

Given the cool spring temps and very cold Lake Erie, the overall flowering abundance levels of spring wildflowers will likely be behind schedule, especially near and/or east of Lake Erie. Emergence of West Virginia White butterflies from their overwintering pupae should also be behind schedule.
Look for this Globally Vulnerable slow flying mainly "in-the-rich-woods-only" butterfly laying eggs on cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), or Two-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla), its' required host-plants, which occurs in moist rich woodland areas, often found on the slopes of gullies or other low areas with adequate moisture. 

If you do see a WVW, please document as much detail as you can.  
Visit for a survey form and instructions, and  for pics of the host plants, eggs, chrysalis, and the similar looking European Cabbage White butterfly.  The European Cabbage White, with VERY pale black (mostly in early spring ECWs) fore-wing tips and black sex spots (1 spot on male and 2 on spots on females) flies faster, more direct, and out in the open and it also starts to fly in April.  As uber volunteer Terri Martincic says, "One trick I found is they {WVW} don't fly like the Cabbage Whites.  If you have to "chase" it it's a Cabbage White, if it stays in one area slowly moving from one flower to another it's a West Virginia White".

Please respond to this email if you are able to resurvey last year's Museum Natural Area or if you are interested in surveying a new or additional area and we will mail you an Access Permit to the those preserves.

Please email or mail your observations of high count #'s, egg-laying, etc and any garlic mustard sightings to us, and feel free to call with questions to the # below.

Also check out the website for WVW first emergence date(s) research. 

Hope you have lots of good finds.

David J. Kriska
Biodiversity Coordinator
Natural Areas Division
Center for Conservation & Biodiversity
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
1 Wade Oval, University Circle
Cleveland, OH 44106

West Virginia White

Hi all - 

I'm writing to share with you a video that I wrote and produced about the West Virginia White and my research. The video is in the context of a crowdfunding campaign. I'm using this to raise money for my final year of research. If I raise enough, I'll be able to travel to many remote field sites and enhance our understanding of the West Virginia White and its relationship to garlic mustard.  Even if you can't donate, please consider sharing the video and page with friends and family. I do offer small "rewards" for donations-- framed pictures, photo coasters, special Skype QA sessions, and the like.

URL     This video will teach you more about the West Virginia White.

The great thing about this campaign is that it is "keep what you earn" which means that I don't have to reach a goal for your money to help me with covering costs of fuel, camping, and lab supplies. We've currently got enough raised to cover four nights of camping, but none of the other costs associated with research (fuel, lab supplies, field supplies, undergraduate help).   

Again, if you can't donate, please share with friends and family and check out the video anyway, because you can see some of the pictures and videos I've taken during the last 4 years of working on this majestic rare butterfly.


Sam(antha) Davis
Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Candidate
Wright State University, Dayton, OH

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