Saturday, November 26, 2016

Butterfly Review for 2016

Its safe to say that butterfly watching for 2016 - at least in Ontario - is over. I figured I would try to go back and look at some butterfly watching highlights from 2016. At first, I had only considered an early sighting of a Red Admiral as my only highlight for the year, but going back a little through my blog and photo management software un-earths some other decent sightings.  This posting covers this years butterfly watching season which for me started March 16th and ended this past friday with the following sightings:

Late sightings: Friday Nov 19th: 3 Monarch, 1 Eastern Comma, 2 Clouded Sulphurs (Pelee). Thursday Nov 18th - Common Checkered Skipper (West Windsor).
Early Admiral - March 16, 2016 - Point Pelee - Photo by Rick Mayos ©
Earlier this year, on March 16th, I had a day off with my two boys and we decided to for a walk at Point Pelee before we visited Colasanti's. When we arrived at the Point Pelee gate, the woman at the gate told us that there was a scavenger hunt for kids - complete with a camp fire, marshmallow roasting and hot chocolate was taking place at White Pine. As luck would have it, I had been talking to Rick from Leamington and he joined us for the walk. As we walked along Ander's Footpath near the cemetary - Rick and I noted a butterfly flutter past us then land 20-30' ahead of us. I didn't have my camera - but I did have my binoculars and amazingly- an early admiral was noted with its bright orange wing bars. Rick had his camera and took some record photos. Later I posted that sighting to the Ontario Butterflies Google Group [link]. The late Alan Wormington - who maintained meticulous records of bird and butterfly sightings made the following note about that observation:

Alan Wormington (Mar 16 )

Just a follow-up on this observation.
It is a record-early sighting of Red Admiral for Point Pelee National Park; previous record-early was March 18, 1995 (Lorraine H. Foott).

Since the species is strictly an immigrant into Ontario (it does not overwinter in the province), this may be a sign that this year could be an active one for spring immigrants.

Alan Wormington,

Alan Wormington was a gifted birder, butterfly watcher and naturalist who passed away this summer. Josh Vandermeulen has a great tribute to Alan at this link:

In June this year, my family went for a trip to Shawnee State Park in Southern Ohio. Sadly, the trip was rained out but I did one brief opportunity to view some nice butterflies at the Edge of Appalachia - Lynx Prairie Trail [link] where I had seen Zebra Swallowtails, Variegated Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtails and this little green Lepidopteric Gem -- a Juniper Hairstreak on Whorled Milkweed.

Mid July Sedge Search yielded looks at Dukes Skippers. This one particular location was suggested by Alan. It was a nice spot on the Northern edge of Wheatley Provincial Park.

Mid July also gave an opportunity to see some moth-watching at Ojibway. One of many great moths that I was able to see was this giant Carolina Sphinx moth.

A July trip to the Bruce Peninsula had me hoping to find a Lepitoperic lifer at Singing Sands Fen. An easy lifer was this stunning Dorcas Copper.

Dorcas Copper on Early Goldenrod at Singing Sands Fen

July 31st was a great day for butterfly watching this year. I had two rare butterflies - a variegated fritillary as well as a Common Ringlet - both in the Spring Garden area of Ojibway Park in Windsor. Seeing a fresh Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Dense Blazingstar flowers at Ojibway is a special treat - and capturing that scene with photography is always a pleasure.

Common Sootywing is mildly rare in Essex County and this summer, occasional yard visitors showed up. This is a cell phone photo of a flower planter in my driveway that had attracted a Common Sootywing.

Late summer rarities -

Steve Pike and Jeremy Bensette had some excellent rarities at Point Pelee the autumn season a Point Pelee. Cloudless Sulphurs were seen almost every weekend in Sparrow Field up to this past Friday Nov 18th! Also, a Canadian First - a Goatweed Butterfly was found by Jeremy Bensette as well. A once in a lifetime sighting!

I had some noteworthy observations of mildly rare butterflies. I had good looks at Fiery Skippers and Grey Hairstreaks. My previous sighting of Fiery Skippers goes all the way back to 2012!

NOT a Cloudless Sulphur

Butterfly watching has proven to be a very enjoyable hobby that can give some good identification challenges as well as helping you connect to nature.

My butterfly life list is at about 110 species. Some butterfly related goals for 2017 are:

  • Continue searching for Mulberry winged Skipper and Dion's Skipper
  • Try to find Artic Skipper and Eastern Pine Elphin (Carden Alvar in late May?)
  • Try for the Northern Oak Hairstreak near Wallaceburg.
  • IO Moth, Leopard Moth- both should be pretty easy at Ojibway Park in Windsor
  • Perhaps visit midwestern prairie habitat in search of Regal Fritillary ?

Good Lepping,


  1. This is a great summary of your observations! I missed some of these this year such as Gray Hairstreak.
    See you at Reid CA late June next year!

  2. A nice summary, Dwayne, of some impressive sightings. I highly recommend a trip to the mid-west in early June.....southwestern Missouri is fabulous for Regal Fritillary, especially when the Pale Purple Coneflowers are in good bloom. They are impressive!

    And for what it is worth, I had a Clouded Sulphur today at the Tilbury SL, although it was not terribly active. I expect a sunny day over the next few will have an occasional lep still in flight.

    1. Thanks Allen and Blake for the comments. Allen, I thought about the monthly butterfly species counts from the Pelee butterfly list- and I thought about how Dec has a few species. Perhaps I jumped the gun assuming butterfly watching was over for the year ...

      Blake, I've gone to Reid C.A. two or three years ago, but had no luck. Should have went this year!




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...