An extraordinary 41 species of butterflies have been recorded in RRMSEA the past few seasons.  RRMSEA comprises a total area of a little more than one acre, over a linear distance of about 3000’.   Contrast that with the 46 species that have been recorded along the miles of trails in the much larger (more than 2500 acres) Mendon Ponds Park, an ecological gem and national natural landmark.  RRMSEA is one of the richest areas for butterflies in the region.  It is a regular field trip site for the Rochester Butterfly Club.

Several factors combine to make RRMSEA one of our region’s premier butterfly sites.   Butterflies are concentrated on the trail because it is a sunny, raised, railroad bed in the middle of the floodplain of Irondequoit Creek. Butterflies are also attracted by the exceptional diversity of caterpillar plants and nectar sources that grow in and along the linear meadow, which is warmed by the sun for much of the day.  The plant diversity is extraordinary and documented elsewhere on this website – it draws the butterflies to the trail.

Butterflies often seen in high numbers include eastern tailed blue, wild indigo duskywing, and silver-spotted skipper.  Several large showy butterflies are frequently seen, including four species of swallowtails, including giant, monarch, red admiral, eastern comma, question mark, all of which have their host plants growing right alongside the trail.  2007 was an extraordinary year for red admiral butterflies, and thousands of caterpillars were found on the nettles growing right along the trail.   Viceroys (photo upper right) lay eggs on willow shrubs also growing along the trail, and great spangled fritillaries are regular visitors.  Locally uncommon species include tawny-edged skipper, Dion, and broad-winged skipper, the latter two known only from a handful of local sites.

 If the proposed plans go through, and the trail is widened, the Rochester Butterfly Club has stated that they will “no longer have any reason to visit RRMSEA for field trips or butterfly study."  

Giant Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Spicebush Swallowtail
Cabbage White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Eastern-tailed Blue
Spring Azure
Banded Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Great Spangled Fritillary
Pearl Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
White Admiral
American Lady

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Painted Lady
Northern Pearly Eye
Appalachian Brown
Eyed Brown
Little Wood Satyr
Common Wood Nymph
Common Ringlet
Silver-spotted Skipper
Wild Indigo Duskywing
Least Skipper
European Skipper
Peck's Skipper
Tawny-edged Skipper
Northern Broken Dash
Little Glassywing
Hobomok Skipper
Broad-winged Skipper 
Dion Skipper
Dun Skipper

Red Admiral

Eastern Tailed Blue

Black Swallowtail

Silver-spotted Skippers


Great Spangled Fritillary

Baltimore Checkerspot

Mourning Cloak

Wild Indigo Duskywing

Eastern Comma

Photos © Steven Daniel , Chuck Schleigh www.Schleigh.comand Kim Hartquist