Hiking with Butterflies

Take a Wild Walk and Learn About the Inland Northwest’s Winged Wonders

When my friend Howard called and told me that he had signed my family and his up for a butterfly hike, I wasn’t sure what to think. I’d read Robert Michael Pyle books, and I’d been on my share of birding trips, so I figured I was game for this. But to be honest, I felt totally unprepared. Was there gear I was supposed to bring? I didn’t own any butterfly guidebooks, and our only butterfly net was a cheesy one from the dollar store. Beyond snacks and water, what did I need for my 3- and 8-year-old kids to have a productive hike that didn’t end in whining and complaining? The answer turned out to be an open mind and a desire to learn. John Baumann took care of the rest.

Baumann is president of the Washington Butterfly Association and an amazing lepidopterist. We arrived at the trailhead for the Mt. Kit Carson hike feeling like novices, and we left that afternoon laughing and planning a time when we could buy a butterfly net and do this again. Over the course of the afternoon, we saw swallowtails and parnassians, sulphurs and fritillaries. I watched my daughter sit with an elegant day moth perched on her fingers for almost 20 minutes; the fascination in her eyes became something I will never forget. Even my 3-year-old son was able to look at his fill of butterflies up close in the small bug jar before releasing them back into the air.

Baumann and the members of the Washington Butterfly Association were so welcoming that the kids have jumped at any chance to go on a butterfly walk since then. If you like to hike and are interested in the natural world, pack up your backpack and water bottle and check out one of these events. It’s always a good idea to contact the trip leader ahead of time if possible. // (Crystal Atamian)

Spring and Summer Butterfly Events

Finding Inland Northwest Butterflies: The Community Colleges of Spokane Act 2 program offers this class for adults ages 55+ at the Spokane Falls Community College Magnuson Building. Tuesday and Thursday mornings, May 3-12. This class will also be offered in July. Register online: Sccel.spokane.edu/ACT-2.aspx

Butterfly Class and Field Trip: The City of Spokane Parks and Recreation will offer a class at Finch Arboretum on May 19 and a walk on May 21. One adult may come with two children ages 6–17. Learn how to identify butterflies and use a net, and learn about new local species discoveries. Register at the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation website: My.spokanecity.org/recreation/outdoor

Dishman Hills Butterfly Lecture and Walk: Hosted by the Dishman Hills Conservancy and Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, John Baumann will give a short instructional lecture and butterfly identification talk followed by a walk up the trail at Iller Creek on June 4. All ages welcome. Visit the Dishman Hills Conservancy website for meeting time and details: Dishmanhills.org

Fourth of July Butterfly Count: Akin to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, this event will take place at the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge on July 9. All ages welcome. Meet at the headquarters outside Colville. Visit the Washington Butterfly Association website for meeting time and trip leader contact information: Wabutterflyassoc.org

Washington Butterfly Association Annual Conference: The WBA 2016 Conference will take place on Mount Howard in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon on August 5–8. The WBA offers scholarships to kids ages 10-17 (along with one parent) that include a one-year WBA membership, conference registration, accommodations and round-trip mileage. Regular registration is $90. Apply for the scholarship on the WBA website: Wabutterflyassoc.org/youth-scholarships-conference-8-5-8-7

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