Projektin CVC Butterfly Blitz 2021 Päiväkirja

Päiväkirja-arkisto kohteelle heinäkuu 2021

5. heinäkuuta 2021

Observation of the week – June 19-25, 2021

Hi butterfly fans! We’re bringing you this OOTW a little bit late – the long weekend and vacations have slowed us down a bit.

The seventh OOTW of the 2021 Blitz is a butterfly that you may find while out for a hike in a mixed woods or deciduous forest – the Northern Pearly-eye. This Northern Pearly-eye was observed by Carl-Adam (@carl-adam) at CVC’s Silver Creek Conservation Area.

The Northern Pearly-eye is a very common species found throughout Central and Eastern Canada ranging from Alberta to Nova Scotia. This medium sized butterfly can be identified by its soft brown, scalloped wings, and large brown spots (also known as “eyes”). As you can see in Carl-Adam’s observation, these brown spots are more detailed on the underside of the butterfly as the “eyes” have a brown center with a white pupil (dot), followed by a yellow, brown, and white ring - unlike the top which has a dark brown eye with a white ring.

As a caterpillar, the Northern Pearly-eye is very distinguishable by its bright yellow-green body measuring up to 1 ¾” long with narrow yellow stripes, two tiny, red-tipped tails and two red-tipped horns on its head. Northern Pearly-eye caterpillars eat grasses such as bottlebrush grass and river oats. As adults, they rarely feed on the nectar of flowers since they have short proboscises (mouthparts). Instead, they can be spotted gathering nutrients from sources such as mud, tree sap, decaying food and even dung.

Northern Pearly-eyes can easily be mistaken for some other forest dwelling, shade-loving butterflies such as the Appalachian Brown and Little Wood-Satyr. There is one clue you can use without having to see the butterfly up close. Can you guess what it might be? … it’s flight pattern! The Northern Pearly-eye is known for having a very confusing flight pattern which is exactly how Carl-Adam was able to identify “a large brown species with an erratic flight moving swiftly along the edge of a deciduous forest” before even catching it!

As a working ecologist, Carl-Adam has an interest in identifying all that surrounds him, so it is no surprise that he was out intentionally seeking butterflies with his trusted bug net. Upon catching the specimen, Carl-Adam gently placed the butterfly in a container (seen in the observation photo) and like many of us – whether you are an ecologist, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about what you are looking at – referred to his field guides to accurately identify his catch.

CVC’s many conservation areas sustain diverse ecosystems - such as tall grass prairie at Upper Credit CA, coastal wetlands at Rattray Marsh CA and intact deciduous forest at Silver Creek CA. If you are looking for a specific butterfly or searching for a new species, consider visiting these areas. You never know what you might find!

As we enter the prime butterflying days of summer, we encourage you to continue the search for butterflies within the Credit River Watershed and contribute your observations to the Butterfly Blitz project.

Post written by Lily Vuong, Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähetetty 5. heinäkuuta 2021 17:11 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

8. heinäkuuta 2021

Observation of the week – June 26 to July 2, 2021

I hope you all had a restful long weekend filled with butterflies. It may not seem like it as these hot and humid summer days ravage on, but if you can believe it, we are already halfway through our 2021 CVC Butterfly Blitz project! In another eight weeks we will be turning the corner to Fall and another project year will have come and gone. We have come a long way since this project started.

In the first year of the Butterfly Blitz in 2019 there were a total of 55 butterfly species observed. In 2020 there were 64 species, and now – halfway through the 2021 project – we are already at 58 species! There is no doubt in my mind that our 2021 observations will surpass last year’s total. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if exceeded our 2020 record and set a new goal for next 2022?

Of course, we would not be here without our observers who are out on a regular basis searching and collecting these important pieces of data. Every butterfly counts. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, and if you haven’t yet, there’s still time!

Now onto this week’s OOTW, seen by participant @donscallen. This tiny little brown butterfly may look like a moth but is part of the Skipper family (Hesperiidae). This butterfly is known to have a transparent white spot on its wing. Any guesses? It’s the Little Glassywing!

Both male and female Little Glassywings have dark blackish brown wings with distinctive markings on their forewings. These markings are translucent, which is how the Little Glassywing got its name. If you can get close enough, these markings are distinctive in determining which sex you have. From above, both sexes have off-white markings with one spot that will be larger than the rest. For males, this prominent marking is slanted across the forewing in an elongated rectangular shape. In females, this marking is more prominently square.

To make identifying the Little Glassywing a bit more difficult, the female Dun Skipper and the female Northern Broken-Dash are also small dark brown skippers with a series of pale wing markings. All three species are commonly seen flying at the same time, and butterfly watchers have given them the nickname “three witches” – referring to the difficulty of identifying them.

Don is an avid naturalist and is keen on exploring and sharing his love of nature through his articles for In the Hills magazine. Spending a day botanizing and butterflying provides many moments of inspiration, such as when he spotted over 100 Northern Pearly-eyes on an American Elm tree.

On this outing, Don had fun exploring the edge of the woodland and meadows at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. He says: “Skippers are a diverse group, but the imported European skippers often dominate meadow sites. There is fun to be had searching for other species”. Don knew he had something other than a European Skipper when he spotted the Little Glassywing: “Being very dark, with sharply contrasting translucent patches on the wings, I knew I had something interesting”. Don was able to pull out his telephoto lens camera to capture the image without scaring the tiny butterfly away.

The Little Glassywing is a somewhat uncommon species in our area, but it seems to be expanding its range northward – so you may be seeing more of this butterfly in the future. If you are like Don and love exploring, dedicate some time to moist habitats such as open marsh meadows and fields near shaded woodlands, and keep an eye out for plants with purple, pink and white flowers as Little Glassywings are particularly attracted to these colours. You may find them collecting nectar on plants such as Selfheal, Joe-pye Weed, and various Milkweed species.

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

Lähetetty 8. heinäkuuta 2021 12:41 käyttäjältä lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

13. heinäkuuta 2021

Observation of the week: July 3-9, 2021

This week’s butterfly was observed by John (@jrudd1950) at one of Mississauga’s most well-known parks – The Riverwood Conservancy. While out on a nature walk John and his wife Marilyn spotted not just one but many Banded Hairstreaks feeding on milkweed.

Banded Hairstreak is the most common of the hairstreak species found in Eastern Canada. It can be found in abundant numbers throughout habitats such as woodlands, deciduous forest edges, roadsides and in urban areas where food for its caterpillars is present. Banded Hairstreak caterpillars can be found feeding on the underside of the leaves of some tree species including Oaks, American chestnuts, Walnuts, and Hickories.

Banded Hairstreaks can be relatively common if you look for them at the right time of year. Like our other hairstreak species, they only have a single brood per year, compared to other species who can have multiple broods per year. During late June to late August, adults can be seen flying from plant to plant searching for the sweet nectar of various Milkweed and Sumac species, Meadowsweet and New Jersey tea.

One thing you may have noticed about the Banded Hairstreak is its unique little tail located at the end of its hindwing. This tail, which is shown very clearly in the observation, is also present on other hairstreaks and plays a role in defending these butterflies from predators. When perched, the hairstreak will move its hindwings up and down, tricking predators into seeing a head. However, when predators go in for a bite the hairstreak will fly off in escape – leaving its tail behind! Imagine if we all had tails that tore off?

When observing Banded Hairstreaks, you may sometimes find big groups of males defending territory, fighting, and waiting for females along woodland trails. Females are commonly found in clusters feeding at nectar sites.

This sounds like what John and Marilyn may have stumbled across at The Riverwood Conservancy. John says: “It was a beautiful afternoon and we were exploring the “Wagon Trail” in the woods just north of the main parking lot. We were just about to turn off the trail when my wife spotted a small patch of Milkweed. We checked it out and were surprised to see the Milkweed was covered with Banded Hairstreaks. They are a beautiful little butterfly and best of all they sat still so photography was easy. We love cooperative butterflies.

Like some of our other participants, John and Marilyn took up butterflying during COVID. John says: “My wife and I have been birders for many years and took up butterfly watching last year when the COVID restrictions began to kick in. We needed to get outdoors for more nature and looking for butterflies is something you can [do] while staying socially distanced.

This past year and a half has been incredibly difficult, and we hope that this project also has encouraged you to get outside, learn about butterflies, and appreciate nature. If you are still searching for a special place to explore - whether you are new to spending time outdoors or not - John and Marilyn reminded us that “Riverwood is a very good place for seeing birds too. We also saw a couple of our favourite birds - a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and a Great Crested Flycatcher.

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

Lähetetty 13. heinäkuuta 2021 13:25 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: 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

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

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