Nature Club News For August 2022
by John Dickson
More than any other season, Summer is the time to see and enjoy Butterflies – and Moths too. Starting with Butterflies, here is a comprehensive report from Park Interpreter Cate Crawford-Thompson -“On Saturday, July 16th, 2022, MacGregor Point Provincial Park held its annual North American Butterfly Association Count, bringing together community members to participate in the survey and raise awareness for butterfly conservation. The event occurred during the morning and afternoon of the 16th and covered a large section of Bruce Country, including MacGregor Point Provincial Park, Inverhuron Provincial Park, and the greater Saugeen Shores area. This year’s count saw a relatively average number of butterflies, with a total count of 1969 individuals observed and 37 species recorded. Some of the highlights of our 2022 count included Baltimore Checkerspots, a Red Spotted Purple, and a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. In addition to these finds, we also observed close to 150 monarch butterflies–a significant increase from last year’s count. A huge thanks goes out to the many volunteers without whom this event would not be possible. Their continued interest and support in the butterfly count allow us to run this event year after year, helping us gain valuable insight into our local butterfly populations and raise awareness for the importance of butterfly conservation in Ontario.”
Now switching to Moths, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists (OSFN), on July 19, and for the third consecutive summer, held a Moth Night, led by Alan Macnaughton, a Vice-President of the Toronto Entomologists Association. Here is part of a message from him after the event, which was held, for the second year, at Grey Sauble Conservation’s (GSCA) Inglis Falls Arboretum area. Alan also conducted a second Moth Night on his own, on July 20.
“The weather on the night of the main event (Tuesday, July 19) was just perfect for moths — hot, humid and cloudy. I think there were about 25 people there, and I was very pleased by the size of the turnout and the enthusiasm of the participants. On my 2-night visit to Owen Sound, I had 150 observations of 116 species of moths. The number of observations is about the same as last year, with an especially large number, but the number of species was down, due at least partly to the weather. I posted all of the observations on the iNaturalist website for anyone to see. The 116 species are shown here:https://inaturalist.ca/observations?month=7&nelat=44.95183704542325&nelng=-80.2290690491909&order_by=observed_on&page=2&place_id=any&subview=table&swlat=43.96791594007961&swlng=-81.14033009394899&user_id=amacnaughton&verifiable=any&view=species
The complete list of 150 observations is listed here:https://inaturalist.ca/observations?month=7&nelat=44.95183704542325&nelng=-80.2290690491909&order_by=observed_on&page=2&place_id=any&subview=table&swlat=43.96791594007961&swlng=-81.14033009394899&user_id=amacnaughton&verifiable=any
Combining both years (2021 and 2022) of observations together, 206 species of moths were seen at the Conservation Area. This year we chose a time of year a few weeks earlier, so a lot of the moths were ones not seen last year. Here is the complete list of the 206 species:https://inaturalist.ca/observations?nelat=44.95183704542325&nelng=-80.2290690491909&order_by=observed_on&page=2&place_id=any&subview=table&swlat=43.96791594007961&swlng=-81.14033009394899&user_id=amacnaughton&verifiable=any&view=species
There were no especially notable moth observations this year from the point of view of the community of people interested in moths (although that may change as experts look over my observations). However, there were several moth species which I personally had not seen in at least 15 years, and so it was particularly exciting for me. These were particularly large and showy moths that are of wide interest among naturalists: Elm Sphinx, Great Ash Sphinx and Laurel Sphinx. I enjoyed myself greatly and I hope it will be possible to do this event again next year.”
I can confirm that Alan has accepted OSFN’s invitation to give a Moth Talk, in June 2023, and to hopefully lead a Moth Night then too.
Hibou Conservation Area was all abuzz as the Friends of Hibou and GSCA staff partnered to offer the very successful “Free Family Fun Day”, on August 7, allowing visitors to stop, look, listen and learn what Hibou has to offer. As Marie Knapp shared “The use of Explore Passports accounted for close to 250 participants, plus the many beach goers who were there. The snakes were a real hit, and every station provided very interesting learning for visitors of all ages. We were very grateful for the sponsors as well as the donors of draw prizes.”
Dr. Brendan Mulroy, President of OSFN and liaison with NeighbourWoods North recently shared this planning update on the Healing Path at the Owen Sound Hospital. The target for beginning the excavation for the first section of the Healing Path is the end of August or early September although weather will also be a factor. Phase 1 starts at the west entrance of 16th Avenue East and heads south to the intersection at 8th Street East, then east to the first entrance on 8th Street East. Some describe this as the helicopter pad portion. The Healing Path is a 3 season (spring, summer, fall) trail system that will cater to hospital employees, patients and visitors who would like a gentle walk in a park setting. The Owen Sound Hospital sees over 100,000 patient visits per year from across the Grey Bruce region, and employs approximately 1100 staff and physicians.
The goal is to create a path that can be accessible for all, including those with mobility challenges. So unlike the more informal mulch trails in the forest area, the Healing Path will have a firm and stable top layer of stone dust. The trail will be 1.7 metres (5’6″) wide. This section will have 4 resting areas which are called pods. Each pod has a theme. Two themes have been selected to date – a Native Plant pod, and one incorporating the Marine/Veteran Heritage of the hospital and area.
Now, back to Butterflies: I always enjoy seeing them, and along with a few monarchs every week, this year the highlights so far have been a wonderful yellow and black Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) flying alongside while I was cycling south of Chesley last month, and two Lifers – an exquisite Zebra Swallowtail ( Protographium marcellus) at a flower garden, and a gorgeous Gray Comma (Polygonia progne) beside my vegetable garden.
The Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC), 25 this year, will be hosting a Monarch Butterfly tagging event on Friday, August 26th starting at 11am at Dorcas Bay on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. For further details and to get the exact location, please contact Liv Callo at email@example.com if you would like to participate in this event.
With Monarch Butterflies still the focus, OSFN’s Audrey Amstrong is leading a Monarch Tagging Workshop on Saturday September 3, (rain date September 4) from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, and once again this family friendly event will take place at the Isaac Lake Boat Launch just north of Wiarton. “How is it that monarch butterflies migrate 4,000 km to a place they’ve never been before? Why do we still need Citizen Scientists to assist in a North American monarch tagging initiative? How can they fly with a tiny “license plate” stuck to one wing? And how can you help monarchs in our Grey/Bruce area? These questions and your questions will be addressed in the afternoon tagging workshop. We hope to net and tag monarchs to send off to Mexico, so wear your running shoes and bring your insect nets (some will be provided).” To register and for further details, please email Audrey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.osfn.ca
To close, Nature quotes from Summer World, a Season of Bounty, by Bernd Heinrich – “We humans cannot change into any radically different body colour, body shape or behaviour…However, the genes of a butterfly are the same as those in a caterpillar. The difference is which are turned on or off, and when… The possibility of individual caterpillars to generate amazingly different forms makes me appreciate what is possible in the debate over nature versus nurture.” and “Summer nights belong to the moths and fireflies.”