Our annual Butterfly Blitz citizen science project is the perfect opportunity to learn more about butterflies, have fun in nature and collect important information that will help protect butterfly habitat the Credit River Watershed.
Since the 2021 Butterfly Blitz kicked off in the beginning of May, 135 participants have shared over 1,000 observations of 59 butterfly species through our iNaturalist project. Participants are taking photos of butterflies they see in their local parks, their own backyards and natural areas in the Credit River Watershed.
Several Butterfly Blitz participants have come across the amazing sight of groups of butterflies gathering on the trunk of an injured elm tree at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. One observer estimated that there were more than 100 butterflies! These butterflies are not being social, they are drinking sap flowing out of the tree.
Butterflies like the little wood satyr and Northern pearly-eye enjoy drinking sap more than flower nectar, so this tree trunk provides the perfect food source. Elms, maples and birches produce sap more frequently than other trees, so keep an eye on these species if you’re looking to find a butterfly buffet.
Most Unusual Butterfly
This year at Rattray Marsh Conservation Area, we had the first harvester observation in the Butterfly Blitz. This butterfly is not only a rare find, but a beautiful one. Caterpillars of the harvester are the only species of butterfly in Canada that does not eat plants. They are carnivores and feed on woolly aphids. Adult harvesters lay their eggs in aphid colonies (bugs that live on plants), and the caterpillars grow up surrounded by their food. They go to great lengths to blend in, including covering themselves with aphid wax and body parts, and even mimicking the vibrations that aphids make.
We love how you can see some woolly aphid wax stuck to the butterfly’s wings, giving us a clue that it has been laying eggs among its prey.
A Year of Crescents
So far, the most observed species is one that seems to be having an unusually good year. Participants have observed more Northern crescents this year than in the previous two years of Butterfly Blitz combined! We are not sure if that’s because there are more around this year, or if people are noticing them more this year. Either way, it is great to see all the pictures of these bright and cheerful butterflies.
Have you captured any pictures of butterflies in the Credit River Watershed? There’s still time to join CVC’s annual Butterfly Blitz. It gives outings in nature a new purpose and focus.
How to participate:
1. Watch our training videos:
- How to Find and Identify Butterflies
- How to use iNaturalist and Insect Photography
- How to Conduct Timed Surveys
2. Join our iNaturalist project:
- Step 1: Register for iNaturalist
- Step 2: Click on Community
- Step 3: Select Projects
- Step 4: Search “CVC Butterfly Blitz 2021”
- Step 5: Click Join.