12-04-2016  4:23 am      •     

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) _ An Oregon teenager working on a research project in Mount Rainier National Park spotted a rare butterfly that hadn't been seen before in the area.
Michael Miller of Milton-Freewater was part of an Oregon Museum of Science and Industry camp studying the effect of global warming on butterflies when he came upon the rare species called the "anicia checkerspot."
The checkerspot butterfly mates in high elevation meadows before females fly back to the flatlands to lay eggs.
"That was not on the list and hasn't been seen before," said John McLaughlin, associate professor at Western Washington University leading the study for OMSI and two national parks.
The study is made up of three parts: inventory, monitoring and research.
Last year McLaughlin worked to get inventory at North Cascade National Park. This year he focused on Rainier.
Each summer McLaughlin and volunteers counted butterflies in the early, middle and late parts of the butterfly's summer cycle. Michael Miller's group helped with the middle monitoring time at the beginning of August.
"The OMSI group was absolutely fantastic," McLaughlin said. "I was impressed with how well they could catch butterflies."
The 14-year-old Miller, who hopes to become a wildlife biologist, said it was hiking that initially attracted him to the camp.
"It caught my eye in the spring," Miller said. "It was hiking, and I always loved hiking."
The seven-camper group hiked about five miles every day of the two-week excursion on Rainier.
Miller described the first three days as a grueling, get-in-shape period. But after that he was ready for the challenges involved, including the hike up to Winthrop Glacier.
"I think that was the highlight," he said, "being next to this massive piece of ice that could crush you."
Miller estimated he caught about 50 butterflies during his week of work. But when he found the anicia checkerspot, he didn't understand the significance at first.
"I was like, 'Oh, cool, a butterfly, yay,"' Miller said. But when he saw McLaughlin's reaction, he realized that "this is actually a big deal."

 

 

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