Wading Through Lep History at Klots’ Bog

Entomology has few sacred sites — Mt. Katahdin, maybe, where legions of us have trekked to see the Katahdin arctic; Paul Ehrlich’s checkerspot colony at Jasper Ridge (where he did decades of important studies on gene flow among separated populations, and which has now gone extinct); and perhaps Matecumbe Key, long known as the safe haven for Schaus’ swallowtail.  Add to the list Klots’ Bog in Lakehurst, NJ, known to veteran lepidopterists (including its namesake, Alexander B. Klots) for two-spotted skipper, bog copper, and a puzzling relict population of Georgia satyrs.

Buoyed by some mid-June reports that the coppers and satyrs were already on the wing, I decided to drive up last week for an overnight and check out the area in preparation for a more formal LepTrek later this month.  So, armed with directions from the NABA archives and pieced together from other online sources, I headed for downtown Lakehurst, NJ.

The first thing you need to know about getting to Klots’ Bog is to ignore any directions you get online.  Unless you’re good enough to teach orienteering to Eagle Scouts, you’ll never find it that way.  I spent the first afternoon after my arrival stumbling, fumbling and bush-whacking my way into false start after false start.  Most of the online directions say to start out in downtown Lakehurst near the Post Office and walk to the bog on the railroad tracks.  Don’t — I’m just sayin’.

However, if I hadn’t been wandering in the wilderness I wouldn’t have seen the two spotted turtles I found basking on a log in one of the ditches.  Or eaten about a gallon of some of the biggest and best blueberries I’ve ever seen.  I did manage an Appalachian brown and a very faded striped hairstreak while beating my way through the barrens.

By 5 pm I was exhausted and dispirited.  I checked into a local motel, showered the remains of many crushed deer flies off, and availed myself of one of the innumerable Jersey diners at the shore.  At the local Starbucks, I hauled out my computer and emailed Steve Rosenthal, one of the posters from the June trip, for help — it’s good to have friends in high places!

Steve quickly set me straight — nobody ever gets to the bog by the RR tracks anymore; the area has become so grown over with maple that most of the trails are hidden and impassable even if you could find them.  There’s actually a very easy way in, which with Steve’s help I located next morning.

The first thing that strikes you on entering the bog is how tiny it is.  Just a few acres, really.  And quickly getting crowded out by maple and white cedar saplings.  But the second thing that strikes is — George satyr!  In transecting the bog, which was actually very dry, I kicked up three of these beauties.  But as Steve had warned, the flight was almost over for them already, and had already ended for bog copper at this location.  And as folks familiar with this part of the world know, the butterfly action was pretty much over by noon.  Didn’t stop me from shaking about a hundred white cedars hoping to knock loose a Hessell’s hairstreak, or from marveling about the numbers of common wood-nymphs darting around the perimeter of the bog.  But other than that, the pickings were pretty slim, and I left Klots’ Bog with its patina of butterfly history about 2 pm.

Rather than chuck it in and drive back just yet, I popped over to the Dover Creek Walk-In Access Area, a trail that parallels Dover Creek and runs by some additional old cranberry bogs.  Also pretty dead, but I was surprised to find the second half of an aerial dogfight with a common buckeye was a coral hairstreak, first I’ve seen in years.

I was back on the NJ Turnpike by 3, and back home about four hours later, tired but very pleased to have made what amounts to an almost spiritual quest to a spot with a unique place in lep history.

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8 Responses to Wading Through Lep History at Klots’ Bog

  1. Ray says:

    Good posting! I found Klot’s Bog after three trips and using Google maps. I did get to the bog from the RR tracks, and the remains of the wooden bridge are still there, but the dike is quickly being overgrown. I only found areolata in Klot’s but I’ve found bimacula in other bogs.

  2. Frank Boyle says:

    Rick,

    I have wandered the Pinelands of Ocean and Burlington Counties for many late summers… thanks for this post! While I never looked for the bog (time, time… so many birds, so little time) I think this year I will add it to my list, even if some of the rarities have already flown. Now, if I can only get out of the Pine Barrens without the requisite deer ticks and exposure to Lyme disease… (three times for me). I have South Jersey in my blood, ad a child I spent summers in Pitman, NJ at my Grandparent’s house.

    • Ray says:

      I get enough ticks, but most of them are picked off before they attach and even the attached ones come off before they can get feeding. I got a good opportunity to look for butterflies in NJ and PA this spring and summer. Some excellent finds and some good spots. There is a lot more public land (WMA’s and gamelands) than in south carolina. I’d assume that you are an observer, but do you collect vouchers?

  3. michael drake says:

    I’m thinking of going to the bog on 7/20/12. Could you explain how to find it?
    Thank you

    • Rick says:

      It’s actually really easy from these directions.

      Park in the school lot. Walk around in back of the school — you’ll see an odd collection of temporary buildings and construction stuff out with a small parking lot adjacent. When you reach the construction zone, walk straight back to the tree line to your right and you will see a clear path going into the woods across the RR track. If you look behind you, you should be lined us almost directly with the near edge of the little parking lot and the west edge of the school. Walk straight back on this path and in only a few hundred yards you will be in Klots’ Bog. Clear path, no bushwhacking until you have to walk off the dike into the bog itself.

      • michael drake says:

        Thank you! Is it typically wet enough to need rubber boots?

      • Rick says:

        When I was there last July, it was dry as a bone. Wore sneakers. Depends on the level of rain. There are some permanent-ish runnels through the marsh, but it was mostly dry ground.

      • michael drake says:

        I went to the bog yesterday – got there a bit late – 11am. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to go to the High School. From there, the path was easy to find – but there was virtually no butterfly activity in the 2 hours I was there. I saw one Cabbage White and one E tailed Blue. I drove from there to Forsyth NWR and there was lots of butterfly activity of a number of species. i’ll try again next spring.

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