Butterfly Blitz – Early Findings

White butterfly on flower

Citizen scientists have been busy this summer! Over the past three months, 144 shared their photos of butterflies. Their observations are adding to an inventory of butterflies in the Credit River Watershed.

Now that we’re partway through this year’s blitz, we’re eager to share what’s been happening.

Bronze Copper Butterfly, Photo credit: CVC’s Dan Schuurman

1. We’re learning so much more about local butterflies

Dedicated participants recorded over 1,104 observations across 60 butterfly species. We’re still counting as the program continues until September.

We’ve noticed some butterfly species have been found in very localized areas. For example, the Mulberry Wing and Dion Skipper butterflies are two species that live in sedge wetlands. These habitats were once more common in our watershed than they are now.

Dion Skipper in a sedge wetland taken by CVC’s Laura Timms 

Other butterfly species are typically found in areas near their food source. For example, the Columbine Duskywing feeds on the native plant Red Columbine. These observations are important for butterfly conservation efforts. When we know which habitats support certain butterfly species, we can take action to protect them.

As the program continues over the next few summers, we can compare data year over year. This will help us learn:

  • how many butterfly species there are in the watershed
  • which local butterfly species are the most rare and the most common
  • where populations of uncommon butterfly species can be found
  • if any species are becoming less common over time

2. Participants are making incredible observations!

Since the start of the 2020 Butterfly Blitz, we’ve chosen an observation of the week. We’re highlighting a butterfly’s location, the observer and a cool butterfly fact. The most recent observation of the week is of a Broad-Winged Skipper, only the third one to be found in the watershed! You can check out all of the posts for this year so far on iNaturalist.

3. The Johnson Family created their own Butterfly Blitz challenge

This past Canada Day, the Johnson family got involved in iNaturalist’s “Big Butterfly Day,” but made it special for CVC. The Johnson’s tied their butterfly observations with a fundraising challenge to raise awareness of CVC’s Butterfly Blitz.

The Johnson family observing butterflies.

They donated five dollars to Credit Valley Conservation Foundation every time they spotted a new butterfly species. And they offered to double the donation amount if five other participants matched their donation.

They thought they would see 20 species, but by the end of the day, they counted an incredible 24 different species! With six others taking up the challenge, also matching the family’s donation, the Johnson family raised an amazing $960.

A big thank you to Marc, Reagan, Mae, Oscar and the six other contributors!

Are you inspired?

There’s still time to join CVC’s annual Butterfly Blitz. It gives outings in nature a new purpose and focus. If the Johnsons inspired you, learn more about how you can give back through the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation. You can pick which projects and campaigns you want to support.

Have you snapped any pictures of butterflies in the Credit River Watershed? Share your photos with us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And don’t forget to add them to the Butterfly Blitz project on iNaturalist!

By: CVC’s Lindsey Jennings, Specialist, Community Outreach and Laura Timms, Ecologist, Natural Heritage Management

Comments (3)

  1. I live in Erin Village adjacent to the west of CVC lands along the Credit. A couple of days ago a swallowtail, larger than the black swallowtail, with lots of yellow on it fluttered past me but unfortunately did not land to give me a better look. Last summer had 3 black swallowtail caterpillars in my garden for several days but I fear they may have become dinner for someone when they all disappeared.

  2. Saw the swallowtail again this evening – this time it landed! Definitely a Giant Swallowtail, a little battered and missing a few pieces but had the distinctive yellow markings across the black wings.

  3. Hi Ann, what a great sight – thanks for sharing! There have definitely been a number of Giant Swallowtail sightings this year. They are becoming more common in our area.

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