Be A Baltimore Checkerspot-ter!

Baltimore CheckerspotSo named because its colors are similar to those of the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly was named the Maryland State Insect in 1973.  Maryland is actually the southern edge of its range, with populations ranging north into Canada.

The Baltimore Checkerspot requires freshwater wetland habitats where white turtlehead is growing.  Wetlands are perennially challenged, and turtlehead is a preferred food of the over-populous white tailed deer.  Add to those challenges a warming climate, and it is not surprising the Baltimore Checkerspot is included on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ 2010 list of Rare, Threatened and Endangered Animals.

In 2011, a meeting of state biologists and people already involved in BC conservation efforts resulted in the formation of the Baltimore Checkerspot Recovery Team of Maryland.  In spring 2013, a management plan was finalized.

In Harford County, a subset of the BCRTM formed the Checkerspot Corridor Team to assess Baltimore Checkerspot populations in the county, identify suitable habitats, and promote expansion of those populations through habitat restoration and Checkerspot propagation.  Participating organizations include the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, Harford Glen and Harford County Public Schools, Susquehannock Wildlife Society, Eden Mill Nature Center, Harford County Department of Public Works, and Susquehanna and Rocks State Parks.

White turtleheadLast summer and early fall, visual surveys were conducted to locate white turtlehead populations, or suitable habitat for propagating white turtlehead, since the BC requires white turtlehead on which to lay its eggs.  This year the CCT wants to expand the number of “eyes in the field” by recruiting the help of other organizations and individuals to identify and report sightings of both white turtlehead and the Baltimore Checkerspot in any of its life stages (see photos).  While you’re out and about, hiking or gardening or birding or biking, if you see white turtlehead or the Baltimore Checkerspot, please take a photo, note your location via GPS, if possible, and then visit www.baltimorecheckerspot.org to report the information, or send the sighting information to info@baltimorecheckerspot.org.

If you’d like to become involved with the CCT in Harford County, please email: info@baltimorecheckerspot.org or checkerspot@harfordcountymd.gov.   Be a Baltimore Checkerspotter!

The Baltimore Checkerspot Recovery Team Website is now live and can be found at:  http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/BCRT/index.asp

 

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Anita C. Leight Estuary Center / 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon MD 21009 / 410-612-1688