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!

Publicado el 14 de julio de 2022 por lltimms lltimms


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Vida Silvestre es una entidad asociada a la Organización Mundial de Conservación