People from Caledon and surrounding communities came out to count butterflies at Warwick Conservation Centre on July 22. Zachary Roman

On a sunny day last weekend, community members were out searching for beautiful butterflies.

On July 22, people gathered at Credit Valley Conservation’s (CVC) Warwick Conservation Centre in Caledon for the annual “Butterfly Blitz Count.”

Now in its fifth year, and third open to the public, the event is an official butterfly census and data from it is submitted to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). It is then published as part of NABA’s annual report.

At 10 a.m. people gathered out front of Warwick Conservation Centre for registration and an introduction to the day’s activities. Butterfly nets, field guides, and even bug spray and sunscreen were available for those participating in the citizen science effort.

Two groups of participants were formed: one to bushwhack and traverse more varied terrain, and another to survey less challenging areas of the conservation area.

Each group looked for eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies for one and a half hours, took a break for lunch, then headed back outside for another hour and a half.

Alyssa McLaren, a natural heritage technician with the CVC, was one of the guides for the count. She said over the course of the count, 206 butterflies of 25 different species were counted by the 31 participants in attendance.

“Of particular note, an American Copper was observed, which hasn’t been seen in the watershed since 1970,” said McLaren. “Two observations of a recently-introduced species called European Common Blue were made — the first observations of the species in the area.”

McLaren explained the CVC knew the European Common Blue had been seen in Mississauga, but wasn’t aware before the count that the species had moved as far north as Caledon.

One of the CVC’s main goals in hosting the butterfly counts is to identify which butterfly species are locally rare in the Credit River Watershed. By doing this, the CVC can identify and protect these species’ habitats.

Another important reason the CVC hosts the counts is to monitor butterfly population data over time.

Those interested in butterfly spotting can also do so independently, using a mobile application called iNaturalist. By taking photos and reporting sightings on the app, conservation authorities and experts can verify and make use of data collected by the community. The CVC has its own project on iNaturalist and people can join it for a chance to win prizes like park passes and framed photos.

Bob Noble, a Brampton resident who came to Caledon to participate in the count, said he’s always been into photography, but was really able to get into it more in 2015 when he retired and bought a macro lens for his camera.

This style of lens lets a photographer capture extremely small subjects in great detail — making it ideal for capturing shots of butterflies. Noble joined the CVC for its first public butterfly count and the CVC liked Noble’s photos so much they decided to have some framed for prizes.

Noble has been coming back to capture more pictures of the butterflies each year since.

“They’re gorgeous,” said Noble of his butterfly subjects. He added he likes photographing them because it’s a good challenge and tests a photographer’s patience.

By Zachary Roman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2023 at 18:56

This item reprinted with permission from   Caledon Citizen   Caledon, Ontario

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