Observation of the week – July 6-12, 2019

Our third observation of the week is this Eyed Brown seen by user @reuvenm: https://inaturalist.ca/observations/28318949. This observation is one of only three Eyed Browns on iNaturalist seen in the Credit River Watershed!

Reuven (aka @reuvenm) is currently in the lead for highest number of observations in the Butterfly Blitz – with 44 to date. He is an accomplished naturalist with extensive knowledge of the watershed, having previously worked for CVC doing natural areas surveys.

This Eyed Brown observation was no accident – Reuven went looking for it:
“For the butterfly blitz, I wanted to make a special effort to find some of our species that specialize in high-quality marsh habitats.

“I've previously encountered mostly small remaining areas of such habitat at Erindale Park in Mississauga and some sites in Caledon, but didn't know of any sizable areas within the watershed that were readily accessible to the public. Doing some research, the trails at Alton Grange looked good and last Saturday I headed out to see what I could find. Turns out that there is some excellent marsh habitat there! Despite extremely muggy, overcast weather, I was successful in finding numerous Eyed Brown among several other notable butterflies […]. I definitely intend to return to this spot very soon in better weather in search of other marsh butterflies that might be there like Baltimore Checkerspot, Silver-bordered Fritillary, Bronze Copper, Black Dash or Mulberry Wing.”

If you know where to look, the Eyed Brown can be quite locally abundant, even though it is not a particularly common or widespread butterfly in the Credit River Watershed. The caterpillars of Eyed Brown feed on native sedges, and the adults feed on nectar plants like Swamp Milkweed and Joe-Pye Weed. Many of the wetlands that supported these species have been lost from southern Ontario.

The conservation status of the Eyed Brown has been assessed as secure both provincially and nationally; however, this species may be a local species of conservation concern. A quick look at the Ontario Butterfly Atlas shows that there were many more observations of the Eyed Brown in our area in earlier decades, when wetland habitat was more abundant: https://bit.ly/2LPaO3J. Currently, it seems restricted to the few high-quality patches that remain.

With the help of all the wonderful citizen scientists participating in the Butterfly Blitz, we aim to collect the data necessary to complete local conservation status assessments for all butterflies in the watershed within the next few years. So, please continue getting out there and looking for butterflies – your efforts will be put to good use!

Posted by lltimms lltimms, July 12, 2019 17:43

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