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

Lähettänyt lltimms lltimms, 27. heinäkuuta 2021 19:33

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