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

Posted by lltimms lltimms, August 20, 2021 12:31

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