Capturing the Beauty of Butterflies

Monarch butterfly on flower

Monarch butterfly - Photo by Chris Marn

Citizen scientists play an important role in environmental conservation. Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Through citizen science, people share and contribute environmental monitoring data. In 2019, we launched CVC’s Butterfly Blitz to create an inventory of butterflies in the Credit River Watershed.

This year, we’ve seen almost 2,100 observations of 63 species. That’s the most yet! Over 200 citizen scientists have captured the beauty of butterflies.

In August, we encouraged Credit River Watershed residents to submit their own photos of butterflies for a chance to win a prize. Their submissions did not disappoint! Explore interesting butterfly facts with some of the photo entries:

Black swallowtail

Black swallowtail butterfly resting on a person's hand
Black swallowtail – Photo by Patrick Carvalho

Black swallowtails are so photogenic with their contrasting yellow and black colouring. They take part in an activity called “puddling”. Male black swallowtails are drawn to puddles on bare ground, dirt roads and beaches to have a drink.

Eastern comma

Eastern comma butterfly with swings open on the ground
Eastern comma – Photo by Jean Denison

You can identify eastern commas by the white markings on the undersides of their wings which are shaped like a comma. There are several other local butterfly species named after punctuation including the question mark butterfly.

Monarch

Monarch butterfly flying towards a cone flower
Monarch – Photo by Fabiana Delgato

Monarch butterflies are always a delight to see and are one of the most recognizable butterfly species. Monarchs have the longest and largest insect migration in North America, traveling up to 8,000 kilometres per year!

Morning cloak

Mourning cloak butterfly on milkweed plant
Mourning cloak – Photo by Jean Denison

Mourning cloaks live for 10 -12 months making them one of the longest-lived butterfly species in Canada. They spend the winter tucked into cracks in tree bark and emerge on warm spring days in March.

Tiger swallowtail

Tiger swallowtail butterfly on milkweed
Tiger swallowtail – Photo by Jean Denison

Tiger swallowtail caterpillars are brown and white and are said to resemble bird poop. As they grow, they become green with two eyespots that make them look a bit like a snake. Both colour patterns are thought to deter predators – in very different ways.

Northern pearly eye

Northern pearly eye butterfly
Northern pearly eye – Photo by Jon Rudd

Northern pearly eye butterflies are named after the big circle in the centre of their wing that resembles an open eye.

Explore the Butterfly Blitz project on iNaturalist to see more amazing photos of butterflies submitted to the project. Learn more about the Butterfly Blitz.

By Kimberley Laird, Associate, Marketing and Communications

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