Abundance and habitat relationships of butterfly communities were examined at 15 sites divided into three different types of residential areas (n = 5 sites/type) in central Pennsylvania from May-September 1997. Seventeen species were noted at the 15 sites, with the two most abundant being non-native, cabbage whites (Pieris rapae, 69.2% of total) and orange sulfurs (Colias eurytheme, 10.0%). The most abundant native species was the monarch (Danaus plexippus, 7.5%). More butterfly species (n = 13 species) but a lower than expected number of individual butterflies of all species combined (P < 0.05) occurred in residential areas with established (homes > 30 years old) and native overstory trees than in the two other types of residential areas. Total species richness of butterflies was positively correlated with the number of homes per site (i.e., smaller lot size) (P < 0.05). On the other hand, the total number of butterflies of all species combined and the total number of cabbage whites were negatively correlated with the number of yards containing native overstory trees (P < 0.05). Compared to forested or agricultural landscapes in central Pennsylvania, the diversity and abundance of butterflies were relatively low in residential areas. In residential landscapes, however, a diverse butterfly community was characteristic of older, established neighborhoods characterized by smaller lot size and native overstory tree species. The planting of gardens containing both nectar sources and hostplants for butterflies will likely enhance their diversity and abundance in residential areas.
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