Journal archives for July 2019

July 09, 2019

Observation of the week – June 29 to July 5, 2019

Our second observation of the week is this lovely shot of a Hobomok Skipper feeding on bladder campion by user @bob15noble:

I love how you can see the proboscis ("tongue”) of the butterfly extended into the flower, and all of the little details on the wings and body. It’s no surprise that this picture is such a good one; Bob (aka @bob15noble) is known for his excellent macrophotography skills and has contributed over 2600 observations to iNaturalist.

Bob saw this skipper during the one-day butterfly count on June 29th, on the Elora Cataract Trail just west of Shaw’s Creek Road. About the observation, Bob says: “I originally thought that it was some kind of Duskywing but wasn't sure of the ID, so I wanted to be sure that I got a picture. It was feeding so it wasn't as skittish as it could be. When it did settle on the Campion I managed to get a couple of good shots from a low angle.”

Later on, Bob was able to use his picture to refine his identification, saying “I realized that it was a dark form of the Hobomok Skipper known as Pocahontas that only occurs in females”.

This colour variation is relatively uncommon. To see how different the two forms are, check out this observation of a Hobomok Skipper with the more common colouring, also seen by Bob in the same area:

The one-day butterfly count was a resounding success. Eighteen butterfly blitzers went out and visited nine different sites. In total, they observed 476 butterflies from 26 different species – including a few that have not been seen (yet) by our iNaturalist users. The data will be contributed to the North American Butterfly Association butterfly count program ( With replication over time, it will provide useful information on population trends in our area.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the one-day count, and to all that continue to add observations to our project. Happy blitzing!

Posted on July 09, 2019 17:23 by lltimms lltimms | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 12, 2019

Observation of the week – July 6-12, 2019

Our third observation of the week is this Eyed Brown seen by user @reuvenm: 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: 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 on July 12, 2019 17:43 by lltimms lltimms | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 22, 2019

Observation of the week – July 13-19, 2019

This week’s pick for OOTW is this Clouded Sulphur, observed by @betcrooks:

One thing I love about this observation – and most others made by Laurie (aka @betcrooks) – is the detailed field notes that she provides. These records of behaviour, plant associations, observation techniques, etc. can be very useful to both professional and citizen scientists. And they help build the sense of community in our Butterfly Blitz project as well as for iNaturalist in general.

Laurie says that she saw this butterfly while out walking last week, and immediately took a picture:

“I secretly hope to observe an 'accidental' rare Sulphur one day so I try for clear photos of each one I encounter.

“I approached the butterfly slowly, stopping to take more photos every few yards. It moved a few times but I was able to get a reasonably clear view of the underside of the wings before it flew up to challenge a Cabbage White. I have some poor photos of it in flight, too. Top views of Sulphurs can be helpful to sort the Orange Sulphurs from the Cloudeds.

“This was my first Clouded Sulphur of the year which is quite surprising to me. It seems to be a poor year for the over-wintering resident butterflies but a good year for migrants and irruptants. I've seen more Monarchs than Cabbage Whites this year!”

It’s not just Laurie - despite being a very common butterfly in our area, this is the only observation of the Clouded Sulphur to date in the 2019 Butterfly Blitz. It is also one of only 10 observations of this species on iNaturalist for the Credit River Watershed from any year.

It’s still early in the season for the Clouded Sulphur, and the lack of observations from other years may be because people often overlook the common species when photographing butterflies. Another great example of this is the Cabbage White butterfly – over half of the local observations on iNaturalist of this species (14/23) are from this year, even though it is one of the most common species in our area.

To me, this is a great sign that people are getting out there and making observations to add to the Butterfly Blitz. Keep at it – we love seeing all of your finds, even the common species.

And you never know what other exciting things you might see while you’re out there, like this DeKay’s Brownsnake that Laurie saw while out butterflying:

Posted on July 22, 2019 13:22 by lltimms lltimms | 1 comment | Leave a comment

July 24, 2019

We're over 50 species!

Good morning butterfly blitzers!

We passed the 50 species mark yesterday - as of this morning, we're at 53 species and 525 observations. This is way higher than the stats for this date last year - 121 observations of 33 species. Hip, hip, hooray!

You're all doing great work out there taking pictures of the butterflies you see. I love opening up my computer in the morning to see what you've been up to the day before. So, here's a big THANK YOU for all of your efforts so far.

If you haven't had a chance to get out as much as you'd like to, don't worry; there's still one month left in the project. In fact, Saturday looks like a good day to go out butterflying ...

Happy trails!

Posted on July 24, 2019 12:12 by lltimms lltimms | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 29, 2019

Observation of the week – July 20-26, 2019

This week we’re highlighting the most commonly observed species of 2019 for our OOTW – the Red Admiral – seen here, in this lovely photo by user @marcjohnson:

The Red Admiral is a migrant butterfly. Unlike our resident species, it generally cannot* survive the winters here even as a sheltered egg or pupa. However, Red Admiral butterflies move up to our area each spring from more southern regions, taking advantage of the abundant habitat and food resources. The species goes through at least two generations while here, laying eggs on nettle plants that the caterpillars then munch up.

Some years there are not very many Red Admirals around and some years there are many – and this is definitely one year where there is no shortage of Red Admirals! There have been almost 1100 Red Admirals reported on iNaturalist from Ontario so far this year. Notably, this is higher than the number of Monarchs that have been reported, which is generally the number one reported species on iNaturalist.

In addition to the large numbers of adult butterflies, they seem to be breeding in larger numbers than usual, as noted in these observations of caterpillars:

We’ll have to wait till the end of the season to see how the numbers add up, and to see how 2019 compares to 2012 when the large numbers of Red Admirals was the subject of several news stories (e.g.

The Red Admiral may be a very common species this year, but don’t let that distract you from appreciating its beauty. I especially love the view it presents with its wings closed - with the grey-brown mottled hind wing and the striking pinky-red, blue, and white on its forewing.

Is there a common butterfly that you find beautiful? Let us know!

  • there is some evidence that some individuals can survive the winters here, especially in mild winters - but this is still probably more of the exception than the rule

Posted on July 29, 2019 14:20 by lltimms lltimms | 0 comments | Leave a comment