Diario del proyecto CVC Butterfly Blitz 2022

11 de agosto de 2022

Observation of the week: July 31 to August 6, 2022

Hello Butterfly Blitz enthusiasts! Have you completed our survey about the wrap-up event on September 17th? We’re excited about planning this event and need your input about how it should be held. If you’re not on our email list and want to be, please let us know. Comment below and we'll get in touch.

This week’s OOTW is a Fiery Skipper, observed at the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga by Steph (@stephkeeler).

Fiery Skippers are not a common species in our area. The last time one was spotted in the Credit River Watershed was 2020. Side note – that observation won the best photo award for the 2020 Butterfly Blitz!

Their rarity is because the Fiery Skipper is one of our occasional breeding migrant species. The bulk of its populations occur further south in the US, but sometimes those populations expand and move north into Ontario. These incursions are more common in southwestern Ontario than in the Greater Toronto Area.

Although they reproduce here, Fiery Skippers never establish a permanent population in Ontario because they can’t survive the winter. The descendants of those individuals that move north die off and don’t migrate back south.

While it might be a welcome rarity here, in more southern parts of their range, Fiery Skippers can pests. This is because Fiery Skipper caterpillars feed on grass, which can cause dead, brown patches. The caterpillars also live on grass blades that they roll lengthwise and web into a shelter.

Fiery Skippers are generally found in open areas, such as grassy fields, lawns, roadsides, and meadows. In Ontario, they are often seen in ornamental gardens – especially near the lakeshore.

Like many skippers, the Fiery Skipper can be mistaken for a moth because of its brownish colouring, large eyes, short and knobby antennae, hairy and chunky body, and the positioning of its wings when resting. Their wings fold into a triangle shape while sitting, which is unique to skippers among the butterflies and more characteristic of moths.


Left: male Fiery Skipper, by @betcrooks Right: female Fiery Skipper, by @jemredwood

The Fiery Skipper received its common name from the orange and brown patterning on their wings, which resemble flames. But they are a sexually dimorphic species, which means that the males look different than the females – as shown above. The males are light orange on the underside of their wings with dark brown spots. The females are larger than the males, and they are grey-brown with orange and brown spots. Which one do you think looks more fiery? Let us know!

Post written by Stephanie Donison, Assistant, Natural Heritage Management and Laura Timms, Senior Specialist, Natural Heritage Management

Ingresado el 11 de agosto de 2022 por lltimms lltimms | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

05 de agosto de 2022

Observation(s) of the Week: July 24th - 30th, 2022

A few updates before we get into our 11th OOTW:

  1. We’re having a Butterfly Blitz Photo Contest (all ages): Contest runs August 8th to September 8th, 2022. See details here.
  2. Don’t forget to register for the Butterfly Blitz hike at Rattray Marsh.
  3. Our project is up to 63 species and 1,100+ observations . Thank you for the time and effort you’ve put towards observing butterflies in the watershed!

A butterfly species has officially overtaken the Cabbage White as the most observed species in the Butterfly Blitz project. So, we thought it was time to feature one of the most recognizable species in Canada., the Monarch!

For this week’s OOTW, we have chosen two of Peeter’s (@peeterinclarkson) observations as we couldn’t decide on just one.
Monarch butterfly in mid-flight and Monarch and bumblebee species facing off on purple coneflower.

When asked about his beautiful butterfly photography, Peeter commented, “Last year, thanks to the Butterfly Blitz, I began my effort to recognize and photograph more butterfly species. I use a telephoto lens to optimize my chances of capturing an image without disturbing the butterfly. These two images were taken at Jack Darling Park which has a wonderful selection of native plants.”

We’re seeing so many Monarchs this time of year because they’re preparing to make their migration south. The Monarch migration is fascinating, and we’ve only touched on this journey in earlier OOTW journals from 2019, 2020, and 2021. One aspect of this journey that has always turned my curiosity, is how they find their way. Experts believe that monarchs likely use a variety of environmental queues to find their way. They rely on the sun's positioning and the earth's magnetic pull to find their overwintering location. With the help of air currents and thermals, they can fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their destination! Read more here and here .

Next time you see a Monarch in late summer, be sure to wish them well on their journey south.
Thanks for reading and happy butterflying!

Written by @kristenvalencia, Program Assistant in Community Outreach, CVC.

Ingresado el 05 de agosto de 2022 por kristenvalencia kristenvalencia | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de julio de 2022

Observation of the week – July 17-23, 2022

It’s time to highlight one of my favourite groups of butterflies – the hairstreaks. Last week in the Butterfly Blitz we saw two observations of Striped Hairstreaks, by Lorysa (@lorysa) and Kevin (@kkerr). We couldn’t choose just one, so we featured both: here and here.

At first glance, it may seem difficult to tell the Striped Hairstreak apart from similar species like the Banded and Hickory Hairstreaks. When you look closer, there are key differences in wing patterns – including the width of their bands and the size and arrangement of the grey/blue and orange spots. Striped Hairstreak has very wide wing bands, and an orange ‘cap’ on the blue/grey spot in the far corner of the hind wing.

Both Lorysa and Kevin found the input of others on iNaturalist to be helpful in their hairstreak identification. Lorysa says: “I don't know enough to narrow down to specific Hairstreak it was, but comments from other members of the iNaturalist society helped me learn how to tell this was a Striped Hairstreak.” And Kevin agrees: “I'm still relatively new to butterflies but I remembered reading your comments on how to distinguish species of hairstreaks from someone else's earlier submission, so the blitz has definitely helped advance my ID skills.

Hairstreaks in Ontario all have a little tail sticking out of the end of their hind wings. The combination of these tails, their hindwing spot patterns, and the way the butterflies rub them together, are used to fool predators into thinking there is a head on the butterfly’s wings. This trick seems to work, as it is common to see hairstreaks with a bit of their hind wing missing where a bird has taken a bite!

Striped Hairstreaks are usually seen in woodland openings and on forest edges. Like all hairstreaks, they spend a lot of time in the trees and shrubs where their caterpillars eat and only come out to nectar on favourite plants like milkweed and dogbane. Once they’ve landed to feed, it’s easy to get photos of them as they are not as skittish as other butterflies.

Both of these hairstreaks were observed while our Butterfly Blitz participants were out doing something else: Lorysa was doing a favour for a neighbour and Kevin was out for a walk with his kid. I love this kind of observation, as I’m also likely to notice butterflies at any time – my family knows that I’ve seen a butterfly if I randomly run away with my phone out. Once you start butterflying, it’s hard to stop. As Lorysa says: “Now I carry my phone at all times because you just never know when you'll see something.

Ingresado el 28 de julio de 2022 por lltimms lltimms | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de julio de 2022

Observation of the week – July 10-16, 2022

Have you ever been out butterflying and seen a flash of something orange with dark markings that was too big to be a Northern Crescent, too small to be a Monarch, and not quite the right shape to be a Comma species? If so, it may have been one of the Fritillary species found in our area.

Our ninth OOTW is one of those species – this beautiful Meadow Fritillary – observed by Marc (@marcjohnson).

There are two groups of fritillaries in Ontario: the greater fritillaries (Speyeria spp.), including the Great Spangled Fritillary; and the lesser fritillaries (Boloria spp.), including the Meadow Fritillary. Species in both groups are superficially very similar, especially when you look at the upper sides of their wings. They’re easiest to identify to species by looking at the patterns on the undersides of their wings.


Left: the underside of a Meadow Fritillary’s wings, observation by @marcjohnson
Right: the underside of a Great Spangled Fritillary’s wings, observation by @bevlynn99

Fritillaries got their name from the Latin word fritillus, which means chessboard or dice box. It is easy to see how this name applies when looking at the upper side of their wings, where the black spots on the orange background give a checkered appearance.

The ROM Butterflies of Ontario field guide refers to the Meadow Fritillary as the most common lesser fritillary in southern Ontario. But our experience after four years of the Butterfly Blitz suggests that they are not a common species in our area. The only observations on iNaturalist in the Credit River Watershed are from a single location.

Records in the Ontario Butterfly Atlas also seem to suggest that Meadow Fritillary may be less common now than it was in past decades. Other areas of North America have also noticed a range contraction for this species, while some still refer to it as common and abundant.

Is the Meadow Fritillary truly rare and declining in our area, or is it just a tricky species to find? If you’d like to answer this question, you can help by searching for this species in open, usually wet, meadows. They have multiple generations per year, so if you’ve missed them in the past few weeks, try looking again in late August.

Ingresado el 22 de julio de 2022 por lltimms lltimms | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de julio de 2022

Observation of the Week: July 3-9, 2022

Two quick updates before we get into our eighth OOTW:

  1. There are still spots for this week’s guided hike at Wilcox Conservation Area. This site is in the northwest of the watershed and is a good spot to see Eyed Browns, Appalachian Browns, and maybe some of our other cool wetland butterflies – a good way to build your species list! Register here today or tomorrow morning if you’re interested.
  2. Our project is up to 58 species and almost 700 observations. This is amazing work! Thank you all for your efforts!

I often surprise people when I tell them that butterflies can be brown or other dull colours. Many assume that small or medium-sized brown flying things are moths, and don’t give them a second look. Our eighth observation of the week features one of those dull brown species - the Northern Cloudywing – hopefully we’ll convince you they’re worth paying attention to!

The Northern Cloudywing is part of a group of species called the spread-wing skippers – named because of their tendency to hold their wings out to the side when at rest. Other species in this group that we’ve written about before include the Silver-spotted Skipper, Wild Indigo Duskywing and Dreamy Duskywing. While these medium-sized butterfly species might seem superficially similar, it is easy to pick out the Northern Cloudywing when you look closely.

Northern Cloudywings are almost entirely brown, with a few translucent white spots on the forewing arranged in a somewhat random pattern. The underside of their hindwings has some faint darker brown bands. They are mostly solid brown – compared to the other spread-wing skippers that all have a larger number of white and/or orange spots and silvery colouring.

Left: Northern Cloudywing, observed by @line2 Right: Wild Indigo Duskywing, observed by @bevlynn99

Northern Cloudywings are usually seen on their own, unlike the Baltimore Checkerspots we heard about last week. Maybe this is because the males are very territorial – they will chase away anything that comes into their territory and then come back to the same perch over and over.

These butterflies are one of the many species that have benefited from the introduction and spread of non-native plant species. The native host plants of Northern Cloudywings include tick trefoils, bush clovers, and other plants in the pea family. You’re now just as likely to see their caterpillars feeding on introduced vetches and clovers.

Line (@line2) observed this Northern Cloudywing on one of her visits to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. She says: “I have been coming fairly often to Credit Valley, looking for butterflies and moths. It's one of my favorite spots!” This may also be one of the Northern Cloudywing’s favourite spots; Line has observed one on each of her visits to the Forks.

What is your favourite butterflying spot? Let us know!

Ingresado el 14 de julio de 2022 por lltimms lltimms | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de julio de 2022

Observation of the week June 26 – July 2, 2022

Our seventh OOTW for the 2022 Butterfly Blitz is an observation of one of our most distinctive butterfly species – the Baltimore Checkerspot. This particular checkerspot adult was seen by Christine (@c-elliott) in the Hungry Hollow ravine in Georgetown.

Hungry Hollow has been having a mini explosion of Baltimore Checkerspots this year, with over a dozen observations made on iNaturalist. This is probably partly because Hungry Hollow is a popular walking area, and the checkerspots have been easily seen from the trails. But it’s also probably partly because of the biology of the species – when you find one Baltimore Checkerspot, you’re likely to see more.
Adult female Baltimore Checkerspots lay groups of 100 to 700 eggs together on the undersides of leaves of white turtlehead plants. After the caterpillars hatch, they hang out and feed on turtlehead leaves together in a communal nest that they construct out of silk.

After feeding for a few weeks, partly grown Baltimore checkerspot caterpillars drop to the ground and find a cozy place in the leaf litter to spend the winter. When temperatures warm up in the spring, they come out of hibernation and begin feeding again. Although young Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars prefer to eat turtlehead leaves, the bigger ones are less picky and will feed on the leaves of different plant species – including ash trees and plantain.


Left: Communal nest of Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars, Hungry Hollow in August 2021.
Right: Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars feeding on ash leaves, Hungry Hollow in June 2022.

Christine shared some wonderful details on how she made this observation:

“The Baltimore Checkerspot and Acadian Hairstreak were my two target species as I headed out that afternoon, based on observations from other Butterfly Blitz participants earlier in the week (shout out to @pbuchwald, @maci_paci, @l_silva, and @bevlynn99). As uncommon species in our area, it was exciting to know that I could potentially see both within walking distance of my home. This would be my first time observing Baltimore Checkerspots in the field, making this observation both a first-of-year and lifer.

The area where I spotted both species was the newly opened extension to the Hungry Hollow Trail in Georgetown, north of West Branch Park. The boardwalk over the wet meadow made for excellent viewing opportunities with little disturbance to the surrounding habitat. To my surprise I wasn't treated to just a few butterflies of each species, but dozens.

One of my goals this year is to pay greater attention to the habitat and hosts plants for the different butterfly and moth species I encounter. While reading up about the Baltimore Checkerspot, I learned that the eggs are laid on native plants such as turtlehead and hairy beardtongue, and that adults prefer to nectar on the flowers of milkweed, viburnum and wild rose. Moving forward, I hope this information will help me to find other populations outside of Hungry Hollow in the future.”

Side note: The Baltimore Checkerspot was named after George Calvert (1580-1632), the first Lord Baltimore, whose coat-of-arms was orange and black. The Baltimore Oriole is also named after Lord Baltimore, while Baltimore, Maryland, was named by his son. It’s partly because of the name that the Baltimore Checkerspot is the official state insect of Maryland.

Did you know Ontario doesn’t have an official provincial insect? If we did, what do you think it should be?

Written by @lltimms, Senior Specialist in Natural Heritage, CVC.

Ingresado el 06 de julio de 2022 por kristenvalencia kristenvalencia | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de junio de 2022

Observation(s) of the Week June 19th – 25th, 2022

Welcome to the 6th Observation of the Week (OOTW). We’re getting close to 400 observations, and collectively we’ve seen 42 species – way to go!

This past weekend, we took part in a North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Butterfly Count. Thanks to all our awesome participants who joined us and persevered through the very hot day: @bob15noble, @donscallen, @carl-adam, @c-elliott, @fozia, @patrick2008 & family, and @greenookgladelh & family! We found 161 individuals of 21 species over the course of the 4-hour event.

Our event was so full of great finds that we couldn’t choose a single OOTW. So, we’re highlighting the entire count! Although we didn’t take pictures of every observation, you can see some of our finds by viewing this collection from the event. Which one do you think is the most interesting?

There were a few finds that our butterfly count teams were particularly excited about. On Kristen’s team, Bob (@bob15noble) found two Bronze Coppers – these beautiful wetland butterflies are uncommon in our area. Laura’s team saw a Giant Swallowtail, netted by Alan – this is the largest butterfly species in Canada! There was also a White Admiral that took a liking to Patrick (@patrick2008), while Corin (@greenookgladelh) caught about a zillion Common Ringlets.

Our most observed species during the count was the European Skipper. This is not surprising, as this introduced butterfly can be very abundant in grassy open areas – which are common at Warwick Conservation Centre, where we held the count.

Warwick Conservation Centre is one of CVC’s administrative offices, and is normally closed to the public. The butterfly count provided a special opportunity to survey this area, which offers a great variety of butterfly habitats – including meadow, wetland, and woodland – allowing many different types of butterfly species to thrive.

One of the best things about the butterfly count was seeing the knowledge shared and connections made between participants. We look forward to continuing to build these connections throughout our summer events. Don’t forget to register for our next butterfly hikes in July and August:

Written by @lltimms, Senior Specialist in Natural Heritage, CVC and @kristenvalencia, Program Assistant in Community Outreach, CVC.

Ingresado el 29 de junio de 2022 por kristenvalencia kristenvalencia | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

21 de junio de 2022

Observation of the Week June 12th – 18th, 2022

Welcome to the 5th Observation of the Week (OOTW). We are just over one month into the project and have reached over 250 observations of 35 species.

This week’s OOTW is a viceroy, observed by Darryl (aka: @darrylgwynne). Darryl says, “This was my first butterfly count of the season (data yet to be uploaded!) and was taken in the first part of the 5km walk […]. I thought the butterfly seemed too small for a monarch (which I haven’t seen on my walk yet). Luckily it landed close-by and posed for a photo which was then identified by iNaturalist.”

Besides their size, a key visual difference between a viceroy and a monarch is the line across a viceroy’s hind wing. See the photos below for a colourful comparison.

Often, when talking about viceroys, the topic quickly changes to monarchs. After all, monarchs are a poster species for pollinators and a very familiar butterfly in our area. However, there is certainly more to a viceroy than its differences to the monarch.

For example, did you know:

  • Viceroys don’t migrate, they overwinter as young caterpillars and will roll a leaf into a tight tube to hide inside until spring arrives. This leaf tube is called a hibernaculum.
  • Viceroy caterpillars eat willows, poplars, and cottonwoods. These tree species grow in wet areas like marshes, meadows, and wetlands – so these are also the best place to see viceroys flying.
  • A viceroy’s flight pattern differs from a monarch’s. A monarch’s flight is float-like, whereas a viceroy will flap-flap-glide in comparison.
  • Viceroys were once considered to be Batesian mimics. With this kind of mimicry, viceroys would trick predators into thinking that they were poisonous and distasteful, like monarchs, because of their similar appearance. But in recent years scientists have discovered that viceroy butterflies are actually also poisonous and distasteful to predators. This makes them Mullerian mimics, which is the name for the kind of mimicry when two or more species copy each other’s warning signals for their mutual benefit.
  • Viceroy caterpillars are also mimics – they look like bird droppings!

Fun fact: Pollinator week is June 20th- 26th. Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated in support of pollinator health. The Pollinator Week citizen science project on iNaturalist is hosted by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign's (NAPPC) Pollinator Communications Taskforce. During this week, your butterfly observations will be automatically added to the North American Pollinator project on iNaturalist.

Have fun, keep butterflying, and we look forward to seeing those registered out at the Butterfly Count this weekend!

Written by @lltimms, Senior Specialist in Natural Heritage, CVC and @kristenvalencia, Program Assistant in Community Outreach, CVC

Ingresado el 21 de junio de 2022 por kristenvalencia kristenvalencia | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de junio de 2022

Observation of the week – June 5-11, 2022

Hello Butterfly Blitzers! Our project is now at close to 200 observations of 32 species. It’s getting tougher to choose just one observation to highlight each week – keep up the great work!

This week’s OOTW is an introduced species, the this European Common Blue, observed by Laurie (aka @betcrooks). This species was first observed in the Credit River Watershed last year, also by Laurie!

Laurie has been an avid participant of the butterfly blitz since 2019. Her butterfly observations often include interesting details on butterfly behaviour and the plants they interact with. She also runs her own blog, where she shares her findings.

Laurie says: “I like to watch butterflies, and everything alive, on slow-paced walks along a bike trail through an overgrown meadow and woodlot near my home. I have a telephoto lens to take butterfly photos from the trail (Ick, ticks!). I take many shots of flying butterflies and often accidentally get a clear photo for an id.

Laurie has learned plenty through her experiences in identifying butterflies. She describes her adventures of learning how to identify blues:

When I first started identifying butterflies, I tried to get the perfect photo of the top of the wings. I soon discovered, though, that it is the undersides of the wings that help identify the small blue butterflies in Mississauga. The trail near my home was home to three different types: Silvery Blues, Azures and Eastern-tailed Blues. As of last year, a fourth blue type has arrived: European Common Blues.

The European Common Blue was first discovered in Canada in the Montreal area in 2007. The species has been increasing in population size and spreading to new locations, including into Ontario, over the past few years. However, a study from the University of Ottawa found that the dispersal of European Common Blues may be limited by the how far the adult butterflies can fly. Females fly an average of 60-100 m, while some males can make it up to 400 m. This might be good news, as some predicted that they would quickly spread throughout the range of their host plant, Bird’s-foot Trefoil – another introduced species.

Laurie is also interested in keeping track of how European Common Blues are spreading. About this butterfly, she noted: “This is a female European Common Blue. Its front and hind wings on one side have a rectangular hole in the margin. I am sorry to see wing damage, but I use it to identify the individual when I meet it again. I can then estimate how long an individual lives and whether it stays in a small territory or moves long distances. I've already seen this exact butterfly three days later only a few metres away from where we first met.

I'm curious whether the females routinely fly long distances, "dotting" eggs as they travel, or whether they prefer to stay in a small area and each generation gradually moves out widening their colony's range. […] This one female supports the gradual widening approach is at work. But if later this summer European Common Blues start appearing in back yards and roadsides for a day or two then disappearing, I will have another clue to ponder.

iNaturalist observations can help researchers and curious butterfliers to understand more about the European Common Blue and many other species. Keep making butterfly observations and you too can help build our knowledge. As Laurie says, “There is always so much to learn and wonder about while watching these small colourful insects.

Thanks for reading and happy butterflying!

Written by @lltimms, Senior Specialist in Natural Heritage, CVC and @kristenvalencia, Program Assistant in Community Outreach, CVC

Ingresado el 16 de junio de 2022 por lltimms lltimms | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de junio de 2022

Butterfly Blitz 2022 updates

Hi CVC Butterfly Blitz 2022 project members,

We have a couple of quick updates.

(1) You’re invited to our second event of the year! On Saturday, June 25th from 10am-2pm, we will take part in a butterfly count at select CVC properties in the upper watershed. The data we collect is an official butterfly census and will be submitted to the North American Butterfly Association for publication in their annual report.

You can find more details and register for free at this link. Registration will close on June 21st at 12pm.

(2) You may have noticed that I will add an observation field of "insect life stage: adult" to your butterfly observations. There are a couple of reasons that I do this. I go through every observation added to the project—so that I can help add identifications, see what butterflies are being found, and to help choose the OOTW. Adding the life stage helps me to know that I’ve looked at the observation.

In addition, knowing the life stage of an observation can be very helpful for certain analyses. Adding the life stage as an observation field makes it easier to use when the data is downloaded from iNaturalist, compared to adding the life stage in the annotations section. This is why I may have added the life stage as an observation field even if you’ve already added it as an annotation.

As always, please reach out if you have questions.

Thanks
The Butterfly Blitz team
Laura, Lindsey & Kristen

Ingresado el 14 de junio de 2022 por lltimms lltimms | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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