Projektin CVC Butterfly Blitz 2021 Päiväkirja

Päiväkirja-arkisto kohteelle elokuu 2021

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 <span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">by</span> 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 <span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">by</span> 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 <span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">by</span> lltimms lltimms | 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 <span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">by</span> lltimms lltimms | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti