Meet Dick Arnold: Resident Expert on Butterflies, Bluebirds and the Beauty of Nature

He’s been featured on TV programs, has made presentations to audiences across the mid-Atlantic, and is known for the work he does on behalf of wildlife. Ginger Cove resident Dick Arnold is an environmentalist extraordinaire – the watchkeeper of our community’s bluebird houses, a renowned expert on the Monarch butterfly, and a volunteer for the support of the horseshoe crab.

Asked how he ventured into these interests, Mr. Arnold responded, “I’ve always loved to fish – and I love to catch sharks. But my son said I was getting too old to play with sharks, and that I needed to find something better to do. So I started volunteering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tagging horseshoe crabs.”

Dick Arnold | Ginger Cove ResidentHorseshoe crabs are important to migrating birds, who eat their eggs, and their blood is used in the pharmaceutical industry to test drugs for bacteria. The crabs are tagged to track their movement and longevity, and to guide decisions about harvesting.

Along with horseshoe crabs, Mr. Arnold is also known for his tagging – and raising – of Monarch butterflies. These elegant creatures migrate each fall from North America to Mexico, travelling more than 2,000 miles on their journey.

Here at Ginger Cove, Mr. Arnold raises Monarchs and displays them on a 10-foot table in the lobby, sharing the fascinating process with our community members. The life cycle starts on milkweed Dick has gathered, where the butterflies lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars feed off the plant, then create a beautiful emerald green chrysalis, where they each evolve into a butterfly. The butterflies are then tagged and released.

When Mr. Arnold isn’t busy with his butterflies, he also tends to the 18 bluebird houses located on the Beltway walkway of Ginger Cove. “Last year, we raised about 120 bluebirds,” stated Mr. Arnold. “After the eggs are laid, I clean out the nests, monitor the houses, and take pictures of the eggs and baby birds.”

To learn more about the ventures of Mr. Arnold, watch for his display, which will likely be set up in August through September. Note: if you ask, he might take your photo with a butterfly on your nose.

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