Projektin CVC Butterfly Blitz 2021 Päiväkirja

15. syyskuuta 2021

Observation of the week: September 4 - 10, 2021

It’s our last OOTW before our virtual wrap up event on Saturday! Thank you for your participation in this year’s project.

We hope you can join us this Saturday, September 18 from 9:30-10:30am for our virtual wrap-up event. We will be celebrating the end of our third year of Butterfly Blitz. We will provide a project overview, discuss some exciting observations, share video footage and have time for you to share your experiences with observing butterflies this summer. Oh and of course, there will be prizes too! If you didn’t get the invitation by email, reach out to Lindsey (lindsey.jennings@cvc.ca) to get the link.

We’re happy to share our 18th observation of the week, from Julie (@sunrisegardener). This Clouded Sulphur caught our attention with the pink markings on the butterfly beautifully complementing the pink Coneflower it’s drinking from. The level of detail in the photo is remarkable.

The Clouded Sulphur is one of the most widespread and common butterflies in North America. The name Sulphur comes from the element – when in its solid state is a bright yellow. In other areas of the world, these butterflies are simply known as “Yellows”.

You may have noticed that Julie has been posting a lot in our Butterfly Blitz project this year. The garden she has created just might be the reason why. Julie shares, “For me, butterflies are magical. They bring me joy all summer long. All my Butterfly Blitz photos were taken in our suburban garden, as I want to show people what a difference they can make by planting natives and host plants at home.

Julie worked with others to start a Facebook group called Let's Nurture Nature Halton Hills. The goal of the group is to share knowledge and resources to increase pollinator habitat in Halton Hills. They also give away free pollinator plants, mostly grown by Julie. Anyone in the area can join the group – if you live in Halton Hills, check it out!

Julie loves sharing plants to help pollinators and has given away over 2,500 this year! She says: “All summer long I have received delighted text messages with photos of butterflies and bees in people's gardens, often on plants I have given them. Some families took home Monarch caterpillars to raise and they involved all the children in their neighbourhoods. Then they shared their precious photos of children delighted by the little caterpillars they were nurturing. Being able to bring such joy into people's lives, while creating sanctuary for wildlife, is a priceless gift.

We truly appreciate the wonderful contribution Julie is making to increase butterfly habitat in her area. We are delighted to hear about her efforts to attract butterflies to not only to her space, but also to many others.

Post written by Miranda Floreano (@mfloreano), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 15. syyskuuta 2021 13:15 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

8. syyskuuta 2021

Observation of the week: August 28 - September 3, 2021

With only two weeks left to go in this year’s Butterfly Blitz, our seventeenth observation of the week is this female Black Swallowtail seen by @debbiechang. We can tell that it’s a female because of the extensive blue markings on the base of their hindwings. Males have less noticeable blue in this area and have larger yellow spots above.

The Black Swallowtail falls into the very large butterfly category with a wingspan of 6.9-8.4 cm. Both female and male Black Swallowtails have two distinctive orange eye spots on the base of their hindwings. Predators will sometimes mistake these spots for the head and will try to bite it off.

Black Swallowtails lay their eggs on host plants from the carrot family, like Dill, Fennel, Parsley, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Because of their love for these common garden plants, they are often seen in backyards and other urban areas. But Black Swallowtails will also feed on native species in the carrot family – like Sweet Cicely and Water Parsnip.

At first glance, you may not notice Black Swallowtail caterpillars since they look like bird droppings. This camouflages them in their environment and makes them less likely to be eaten. As they grow and moult out of their skins, the caterpillars transform. Their body turns bright green with black stripes dotted with yellow spots.

A fun fact about Black Swallowtails is that they participate in an activity called “puddling.” The male butterflies gather around puddles and take in salts and other nutrients from sand and mud. They later pass on these nutrients to the females during reproduction.

Not only do these butterflies get nutrition from flower nectar, drinking from puddles also provides them with another way to build up their fluids and get their electrolytes. This not only benefits reproduction but also helps them to prepare for long flights. Other species of butterflies, like other swallowtails, admirals, whites and sulphurs are known to puddle too.

Have you seen any butterflies puddling? Let us know!

At the wrap up event on September 18th, we will discuss some other butterfly patterns that we have seen this summer. We will gather safely to submit timed survey datasheets, hear about our 2021 project results, discuss exciting field finds and award prizes for the following categories: most species, rarest find, most observations, best photo, most participation, and the lucky day prize.

Park admission is free for participants.
Register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/butterfly-blitz-wrap-up-tickets-166312030761

Lähetetty 8. syyskuuta 2021 19:22 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

1. syyskuuta 2021

Observation of the week – August 21-27, 2021

Our sixteenth observation of the week is this Common Ringlet observed by Patrick (@patrick2008) and Alan at our butterfly blitz event on August 21st. It was a hot morning exploring for butterflies at Chris Gibson Park in Brampton. One of the first butterflies caught was this Common Ringlet that Patrick netted and jarred for everyone to see.

Patrick did a great job of using the netting technique that Laura, our ecologist demonstrated. Once in the net, Patrick placed the jar inside to get a better look at the butterfly. Patrick recounts, “It was flying around with others of its kind and skippers as well. The colours of the butterfly were orange, dark brown, and light brown with a dot on its wings. This species of butterfly is not endangered and can be found in grassy habitats.”

Patrick told us about his interest in rearing butterflies, especially monarchs and black swallowtails. He was introduced to them by a neighbour. As a student going into Grade 8, we were very impressed with Patrick’s knowledge of butterflies and other insects. It’s always great to see young ecologists in action!

The Common Ringlet is an interesting butterfly. You may have noticed that it recently underwent a taxonomic name change. The Common Ringlet that we have here (now called Coenonympha california) was formerly considered to be Coenonympha tullia or a subspecies of Coenonympha tullia, Coenonympha tullia ssp. california. Coenonympha tullia is known from Europe and is called the Large Heath there. Recent taxonomic evidence suggests that the Coenonympha species found here is different from that found in Europe, so it has been renamed Coenonympha california.

There does seem to be one or more subspecies of Coenonympha tullia found in North America – but only in the northwest (e.g., the Yukon Ringlet Coenonympha tullia ssp. yukonensis).

The taxonomic change on iNaturalist was made on July 29th of this year. If you added a Common Ringlet to the project before then it would have been identified as Coenonympha tullia but now is Coenonympha california. There’s always something new to learn about butterflies! What have you discovered recently? Let us know!

Lähetetty 1. syyskuuta 2021 12:58 käyttäjältä lindseyjennings lindseyjennings | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

25. elokuuta 2021

Observation of the week – August 14-20, 2021

Our fifteenth observation of the week is this Eastern Tailed-blue. This stunning series of photos taken by Dan (@stariplativky) in Mississauga really showcases just how tiny and delicate these little butterflies are. Like last week’s Least Skipper, the Eastern Tailed-blue also falls into the very small butterfly category, with a typical wingspan between 20-24 mm.

Dan spotted this Eastern Tailed-blue in a natural area near his house. He says: “It is so fascinating how many different species including butterflies live there.” Although Dan had downloaded iNaturalist a few years ago after reading about in a CBC article, but didn’t really get into using it until last year. He says that when Covid started “we were ‘forced’ to go more often to parks. On one such trip my wife asked me about the name of some plant. I took a picture of it and few minutes later had an answer. So Covid is the reason I am using this app”.

This butterfly can easily be mistaken for an Azure or Silvery Blue from afar. You can tell it apart by the small orange dot at the bottom of the underside of it’s hindwing, and like the name suggests – a small tail right next to the orange dot. Eastern Tailed-blues also tend to become more common over the summer. So, if you see the flash of a small blue butterfly flying around these days, it is more than likely an Eastern Tailed-blue.

Eastern Tailed-blue caterpillars eat the flowers and seeds of different plants from the pea family, including Red Clover and Cow Vetch. They are known as a generalist species, which means that they aren’t picky and will live in almost any open habitat, from meadows to forest clearings and even roadsides. You can even find them fluttering about in urban areas.

Adult Eastern Tailed-blues have a very short proboscis (tongue) and are limited to drinking from flowers that are open and have short nectar tubes. They can often be found feeding from the nectar of flowers that are close to the ground – like Wild Strawberry, Vetch, Aster species, and White Clover – as seen in this week’s observation.

Getting good butterfly photos can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time and spotting them while feeding can be helpful. Dan says: “I take pictures using my phone, therefore most of my observations are not documented. But sometimes l am lucky like that day when I was able to approach butterfly from very close.” Have you had good luck with any of your butterfly observations? Let us know!

Post written with Miranda Floreano (@mfloreano), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 25. elokuuta 2021 13:42 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

20. elokuuta 2021

Observation of the week – August 7 to 13, 2021

It’s that time of the year where we’re nearing the end of the Butterfly Blitz project. With one month to go we have already surpassed the number of observations collected in 2020! Currently sitting at 1929 observations, we’ve exceeded last year’s total of 1832. Thank you to everyone for your participation and contribution to this important data set!

Our fourteenth observation of the week is this Least Skipper seen sitting gracefully on a blade of grass by Kevin (@kkerr) at Silver Creek Conservation Area. I like how you can see how small this butterfly is relative to the blade of grass it’s resting on. The Least Skipper falls under the very small butterfly category with a wingspan of just 17 to 26 mm.

Least Skippers are commonly found in low-lying marshy meadows, especially those situated near water like streams and ditches. Least Skipper caterpillars feed on grasses as host plants, using silk to web together blades of grass to a create shelter. They are known to feed on several types of native grasses such as Panic grass, Bluegrass species, and Foxtail and are not known to use any introduced grasses. More reason to plant native species!

Regarding his find, Kevin shares: “It was somewhat accidental that I encountered this species. I had been out for a walk on the Bennet Side Trail but wasn’t seeing much and was about to turn around to head home. Some nuthatches and chickadees started making a loud commotion and I thought they might be mobbing a screech-owl. I descended a long steep bank in hopes of getting a clearer view, but when I reached the bottom, the birds had hushed; however, I found myself in a dense stand of Joe Pye Weed with a mix of other popular pollinator plants (milkweed, vervain, etc). There were many butterflies around. Eastern Tailed Blues, Clouded Sulphurs, and some Fritillaries were less cooperative, but at least two Least Skippers made very cooperative subjects.

Least Skippers are known to fly very slowly and meander about through tall grasses. It makes sense that they were the easiest for Kevin to photograph given that their flight pattern is much gentler than some of the darting butterflies.

Kevin tells us, “The Butterfly Blitz has been a nice distraction during the pandemic and the project is good motivation to try a little harder to capture photos of the butterflies I encounter (which isn’t always easy!). I owe some thanks too to the identifiers who have helped me learn some new things along the way.” What new things have you learned along the way throughout this project? Let us know!

Post written by Miranda Floreano (@mfloreano), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 20. elokuuta 2021 12:31 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

10. elokuuta 2021

Observation of the week – July 31 to August 6, 2021

It’s Monarch season! Our thirteenth observation of the week comes from Julia (@julia_crean) with this beautiful Monarch.

The Monarch currently sits at the top of our most observed species list, with 279 observations and counting, greatly surpassing the second place Cabbage White at 158 observations. We have been enjoying seeing all your Monarch photos come in! It’s not surprising that there are so many Monarch observations given that it is a very recognizable species and one the largest butterflies in Canada. Did you know there is another kind of butterfly that mimics the Monarch?

The Viceroy and Monarch have evolved to resemble each other, a relationship that benefits both species. The primary food source for Monarchs is milkweed, which contains substances called cardenolides that are distasteful to vertebrates and make them feel sick. Monarchs collect these toxic cardenolides in their bodies as they feed. When birds or mammals try to take a bite of the Monarch they are quick to learn of its foul taste. These predators have come to associate the bright orange and black markings of the Monarch with this taste and as a result are wary of this butterfly.

But it is not only the Monarch that tastes bad! The Viceroy’s willow host plants contain salicylic acids, which are also unpleasant to predators. Due to the similar appearance of both butterfly species, predators know to look out for and avoid these orange and black patterns.

Trained eyes can notice the subtle differences between the two species. The Viceroy is smaller in size then the Monarch, and has an extra black line crossing their lower wings. You can see those features here in this observation from Andrew (@uofgtwitcher) back in July. As we continue our butterfly blitzing, see if you notice any sneaky Viceroys out there.

Julia spotted this butterfly as part of a special project. She shares: “This summer I have been doing a co-op in the environment program with POWER (protect our water and environmental resources). As part of my co-op I have been helping with Julie Power’s 2000+ pollinator plant giveaway. I was at her garden when I photographed this butterfly. I have learned a lot about pollinators at this garden and am very excited about what she is doing to support pollinators in our watershed.” This is so exciting to hear! We love the great work that our partners at POWER do.

Julia tells us, “I barely knew anything about butterflies before starting this work. Now I know what a host plant is, which plants host butterflies, how to find Monarch eggs, and can identify way more species of butterflies than I could before. These are just some of the things that I learned. I also had very important environmental discussions and made great connections with other people who want to help pollinators. I would love to go into a career where I can participate with ecosystem restoration and helping wildlife.” Keep up the good work Julia! We are so happy to hear of the wonderful experience you had and its contribution to your future career aspirations.

We all have stories of moments that sparked our interest in butterflies. We would love to hear who influenced you or how you were inspired. Was it a mentor, a career pathway, or just getting outside and exploring?

Post written by Miranda Floreano (@mfloreano), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 10. elokuuta 2021 18:11 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

5. elokuuta 2021

Observation of the week – July 24-30, 2021

Our twelfth observation of the week is the distinctively coloured Milbert’s Tortoiseshell seen by Bev (@bevlynn99).

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell is a quick and active species that seems to rapidly dance about in its environment. You might catch it resting on the ground or a tree with its wings spread flat – as seen in Bev’s lovely photo.

The upper sides of Milbert’s Tortoiseshell wings look nothing like any of our other butterfly species, and it is always a pleasant surprise to find. Bev says: “I'm an avid wildlife photographer so I take pictures of pretty much everything I see while out on the trails. I was excited to see this one as it was different from what I have seen so far this year.

Young Milbert’s Tortoiseshell caterpillars live in communal nests on their host plants – which mainly includes nettles (Urtica spp.). This bunch of hungry caterpillars can completely consume their host plant’s leaves, leaving little behind. As adults they feed on sap and animal dung as well as nectar from flowers like Joe-pye weed and Black-eyed Susan.

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell is one of several native butterfly species that have benefited from learning to use a non-native plant as a host. European Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. dioica) was introduced into North America by early European settlers, and has become much more common than the native Slender Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis). Forest clearing and road building allowed for the spread of the non-native nettles, and Milbert’s Tortoiseshell took advantage of the abundant new food plant.

Unlike this historical increase in their populations, it is thought that Milbert’s Tortoiseshell is currently becoming less common in the Great Lakes area. One thing that you can do to support them is to let their nettle host plants grow. Although they are prickly and unpleasant to touch, we can appreciate nettles from afar for the home that they provide to Milbert’s Tortoiseshell – as well as other butterfly species like the Red Admiral, Question Mark and Eastern Comma.

Lähetetty 5. elokuuta 2021 14:26 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

27. heinäkuuta 2021

Observation of the week – July 17-23, 2021

The eleventh observation of the week comes from Peeter (@peeterinclarkson) who spotted this lovely Red Admiral.

If you have been following our OOTW since the project began in 2019, you may remember we first wrote about the Red Admiral and its booming population. At the end of our 2019 project, the Red Admiral was the second most observed butterfly with 107 observations. This year, the once reigning Red Admiral isn’t even in our top ten list – its currently at a rank of sixteen with 29 observations. How interesting is that?

Although it is well known as a species that has occasional ‘big years’, the reason for the population fluctuations of the Red Admiral still has some scientists scratching their heads. Red Admirals spend the winter in the southern United States, and some migrate back to Canada in the spring. The number of new butterflies produced in southern U.S., and the number that migrate north are influenced by a variety of factors. Ideal environmental conditions, including mild winters and early spring, may play a key role.

In a warm and early spring, Red Admirals migrate earlier and feed on early blooming plants in moist meadows and woodlands. If you see Red Admirals feeding in these places, you may want to reconsider approaching as they have been known to be territorial. They have been observed chasing other butterflies, birds and even people! If that’s not enough to keep you away their caterpillars feed on plants in the nettle family, which have sharp thorn-like hairs.

Peeter is a volunteer photographer with the Blooming Boulevards pollinator program in Mississauga, and has recently become interested in butterflies as part of this work. He shares: “I am a retired Professor of Medicine who is developing an interest in butterflies as a complement to my fascination with native plants. The iNaturalist site and the Butterfly Blitz have been a godsend to a novice like me in helping to identify the butterflies that my lens captures”.

Peeter spotted this lovely Red Admiral at a local park that is a popular spot for butterfly observations: "The Red Admiral was photographed at the Riverwood Conservancy while calmly gathering nectar on a cluster of coneflowers. The butterfly was extremely cooperative in posing for my 210 mm macro lens.”.

Thank you Peeter for being such an active observer to our project. We are so happy to hear that you have embraced this newfound appreciation for butterflies! Hopefully in a favourable year when conditions are just right, you will be able to experience a population boom of Red Admirals.

Have any of you noticed other butterfly species with good years and bad years?

Post written by Lily Vuong (@lilyvuong), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 27. heinäkuuta 2021 19:33 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

20. heinäkuuta 2021

Observation of the week – July 10-16, 2021

Our tenth observation of the week is a butterfly we have not featured before – the Eastern Comma. This one was seen by Gerald (@geraldm) in his backyard.

In the 19th century the Eastern Comma was also known as the Hop Merchant, which comes with an interesting story. Common Hops (Humulus lupus) are a popular ingredient in beer and a host plant for Eastern Comma caterpillars. Many Hop growers were familiar with this butterfly and used the number of gold flecks seen on its chrysalis as a sign of a how good the hop selling year would be – hence the name Hop Merchant.

The Eastern Comma also has some other host plants that aren’t quite as attractive as Common Hops and its beer brewing abilities - Stinging Nettle and Wood Nettle. If you are searching for this butterfly, seek out nettle growing alongside forest openings, deciduous woodlands, and early successional areas . But be careful not to touch these plants, as they can cause skin irritation.

Eastern Commas are part of the ‘punctuation group’ of butterflies , which includes the Question Mark as well as other Comma species. These butterflies can be identified by the white markings on the undersides of their wings, which are shaped like either a comma or a question mark. Aside from these markings on the underside, Commas have very mottled brown and grey underwings, which help camouflage them against tree bark when closed. When open, the bold and vibrant shades of orange of the upper sides of their wings stand out from their environment.

This butterfly is quite a fast and erratic flyer. It will settle once it’s found a moist spot to sip on damp soil or tree sap. For Gerald, photographing the Eastern Comma took several attempts – as he recounts: “This butterfly I had seen over a number of days around the house and yard. It was always very flighty and never paused very long in one spot. This morning was cool after night rains. It was sunning itself on a rock pile and quite still when I took the picture”. Oh, the patience required to photograph a butterfly!

You may think butterfly watching and photography is a summertime activity, but you may be in for a surprise if you’re looking for the Eastern Comma. This butterfly has two generations per year – one in the summer and one in the winter. The winter generation are in flight from around September to October. As temperatures get cooler and we cozy up in our homes, adult Eastern Commas are doing the same – hibernating underneath leaf litter and bark. But, if you’re out for a late winter walk you may be surprised to see a flash of orange flying by. Eastern Commas often reappear during warm spells, a happy reminder that spring is not far away.

Post written by Lily Vuong (@lilyvuong), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 20. heinäkuuta 2021 17:59 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

14. heinäkuuta 2021

Brief Butterfly Blitz updates: observation fields and a butterflying world series

Hello all,

I wanted to send out two quick updates.

(1) 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 what life stage a species was observed as 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.

(2) I've just noticed that there is a butterfly observation challenge going on this weekend - July 17th and 18th. The 'Butterflying World Series' is described as a fun competition where people pledge money based on the number of observations and species you see over the two days. You can find out more about the project here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/butterflying-world-series. Let us know if you join!

If you ever have any questions about the project, please don't hesitate to reach out. We love to hear from you!

Lähetetty 14. heinäkuuta 2021 13:39 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

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