Thursday, December 19, 2013

Butterfly Watching Highlights of 2013

Well, its safe to say that butterfly watching season is over for 2013 (in Ontario anyway). So I figured that this year, I would do a butterfly watching review to compliment my typical "birding" year end review. After the brilliant year of 2012 of Butterfly Watching, it was comparatively a little more dull this year. But, I still had some great butterfly lifers and noteworthy sightings!

Florida in March offered some of my first vacation butterfly-watching opportunities... Its fun to butterfly watch while on vacation because everything is a lifer! Gulf Fritillary, Orange Barred Sulphur, White Peacock, Julia and Zebra Longwing. Most of these were pleasant surprises. One missed target butterfly was a Mangrove Skipper.

Back to Ontario, early July offered nice butterfly watching opportunities while joining some friends on a butterfly watching survey for the Ojibway Park area. Joining such counts is a great way to learn about the fine art of butterfly watching!

Dukes Skipper, Little Yellow, Hickory Hairstreak, Olive Hairstreak, Broad-winged Skippers, along with Georgian Bay White Admirals & Grey Commas made for some exciting lepidopteric discoveries this summer. Finding an aberrant azure was fun as well!
American Copper found in a beautiful Ojibway Meadow... My first in Canada!

Dukes Skipper - Self found at Brunet Park in Lasalle.

Little Yellow - Self found lifer at Pelee - Very rare this year!

Hickory Hairstreak - Self found at Brunet Park
White Admirals - Seen at Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Algonquin
Grey Comma was seen as well. Not much else seen up there though!
One of my favorite butterfly watching moments in 2013 was finding this emerald studded flying gem along the West Beach footpath of Point Pelee. 

Common Checkered Skippers- Self found in West Windsor - A colony in the courtyard at my workplace!

Broad-winged Skippers - Male and Female locally common at Ojibway Park

Bronze Copper - Locally Common in the right habitat - still amazing though!

Record late Tawny Emporer - Lepidopteric Laggard? Tardy Tawny?


Finding a Little Yellow this Summer was pretty amazing. To my knowledge, only one other sighting took place at Point Pelee this year and it was later in the summer by Alan Wormington. Alan also informed me that my Tawny Emporer sighting on September 7th was a (Point Pelee) late record for that species by two days! I think the cold, rainy summer this summer may have incubated the butterfly and encouraged its late release. Butterfly watching is a natural progression for birders as they provide some exciting discovery and identification challenges through the spring-fall time range. They are especially present in mid-summer when birds are breeding.

Goals for next Spring / Summer:

Try to find an Elphin Butterfly in May (Pinery, Long Point or Oak Openings in Ohio?)
Try to find a Karner Blue Butterfly (Oak Openings in Ohio?)
Little Metalmark (SW Florida?)
More moth-watching?
I would love to see comptons/ milbert's tortoiseshells
West-coast trip - Lots of bird and butterfly lifer potential

Good Butterfly Watching!

Eastern Comma - Common but amazing

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