Mass Butterfly Club finds friendly fliers at Dartmouth preserve

Jun 19, 2022

Social butterflies.

The Massachusetts Butterfly Club held a butterfly walk at the Noquochoke Wildlife Management area on Hixville Road on Saturday, treating attendees to views of a variety of fluorescent flutterers.

The preserve featured mostly skippers and hairstreaks, but some more colorful species of butterfly were also seen, like the viceroy — a monarch lookalike — and many large monarch caterpillars.

The walk was led by Andrew Griffith, an active member of the butterfly club who is also the operations manager for Dartmouth Week, and its sister papers, Sippican and Wareham Week.

Griffith said that the Noquochoke preserve is good for butterfly watching because it contains a variety of different environments — fields, forest, and river banks — and several native plants that attract certain butterflies — like milkweed and a variety of grasses.

Despite the favorable environment, Griffith said the Massachusetts Butterfly Club has relatively few members on the South Coast. Griffith emphasized that the walks are free and open to experienced butterfly watchers and novices alike.

Members of the club, he said, are always happy to share their knowledge with newcomers.

Moreover, Griffith said that the area is actually very conducive to butterfly watching as many species congregate in preserves around the South Coast.

“Dartmouth is a hotspot for butterflies,” he said.

Some attendees, like Griffith, brought cameras to document the specimens they found, while others were content just to spot and identify the delicate insects through binoculars.

Griffith said that butterfly watchers usually use flight times — the times of year when each species is in the adult butterfly stage of its life cycle — to help identify which species they see.

But flight times can vary slightly depending on the year’s climatic conditions, making it harder to predict which species might be present at any given time as temperatures rise.

“Butterflies, I think, are a pretty good indicator of how climate change is progressing,” Griffith said.

For example, he said, the butterfly watchers found several large monarch caterpillars during the walk, suggesting that the monarchs arrived in the area a bit earlier than usual this year, and should begin their metamorphosis into adult butterflies soon.

“In a few weeks, that place will be loaded with Monarchs,” Griffith said.

The group will host another walk Saturday, June 25 at 10 a.m. at Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth, where attendees can expect to see even more butterflies, including the Edwards' Hairstreak.

For a precise meeting location, sign up for the walk by emailing Griffith at