Painted Lady butterflies are flitting about fields, gardens, roadsides and meadows throughout eastern North America and beyond. Like Monarch butterflies, with which they are sometimes confused, Painted Ladies are now migrating southward. Each fall, they vacate Canada and most of the U.S. and during winter are active only in parts of the extreme southern U.S. and Mexico. When spring arrives, they push northward to breed, sometimes arriving in the Northeast in large numbers. But they’re not as predictable as Monarchs. But, where exactly are they going? With a massive effort by volunteer citizen scientists, we can begin to piece together this migratory puzzle with butterfly checklisting. (more…)
The Mission Monarch 2017 Blitz Brings Together Canada, Mexico and the United States
For the first time, all three countries in North America are joining forces and inviting their citizens to document monarch breeding sites across the continent by heading outdoors at the same time of year. This Montréal Space for Life project, developed and headed up by a team from the Insectarium, encourages everyone in Mexico, the United States and Canada to take part in the Mission Monarch Blitz, to be held from July 29 to August 6, 2017. What’s the objective? To find milkweed plants, check for monarch caterpillars on the plants and report their observations on the Mission Monarch website. This time of year was chosen to teach people about monarchs and involve them in protecting these butterflies, since it is when they start laying their eggs and monarch caterpillars can be seen in all three countries. Visit Mission Monarch and join today!
Join Adventure Scientists to Help Us Survey Remote Regions
The vast majority of butterfly data is collected in close proximity to urban areas. With Adventure Scientists, USA National Phenology Network, and University of Arizona, we are assembling a large-scale backcountry dataset that identifies butterfly abundance, diversity, and distribution as well as host plants across remote portions of their ranges. We currently have limited data to inform the status and health of pollinators in remote environments. Once baseline data has been collected on public lands, management plans can be established to protect threatened species and conserve habitats. If you like adventure and want to contribute to science, please join Adventure Scientists in helping us. (more…)
Leveraging Citizen Science for Butterflies
From a graduate school student’s lofty dream to a full-fledged citizen science program, eButterfly celebrates its 6th year with a new publication in a special issue of the journal Insects on butterfly conservation. The article – eButterfly: Leveraging Massive Online Citizen Science for Butterfly Conservation – highlights our accomplishments and outlines the bright future of eButterfly.
The power of eButterfly and other massive online citizen science programs lies in the strength and diversity of its participants. Anyone with an interest in butterflies can participate—from the new enthusiast, to the backyard gardener, to the seasoned expert. Since 2012, over 39,000 checklists, representing 230,000 observations and comprising 682 butterfly species, have been submitted to eButterfly by over 5,500 participants. As more participants submit data, an environment of sharing and free data exchange will become the norm between butterfly enthusiasts, scientists, and conservationists. (more…)
A Rare Butterfly Returns to Southern California
The endangered Quino Checkerspots (Euphydryas editha quino) are flying on the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge this spring for the first time in years. It selectively lays its eggs only on the Dwarf Plantain plant. Once found throughout California and into Mexico, the tiny Quino Checkerspot butterfly population is now extremely fragmented, which made it challenging for San Diego Zoo and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to find and collect eggs, larvae and butterflies for the recovery program. Due to the unique biology of this butterfly species, there have been many years when almost no Quino sightings were recorded. As climate change, drought and development have altered their habitat, the Quino’s future was bleak. (more…)
November Butterflying in the Lower Rio Grande Valley
In the northern part of North America, most butterfliers in the fall hang up their binoculars and cameras and head into semi-hibernation. However, more than a few simply head south in November to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. I have joined them from Ontario in the past two years and have been astounded by the results.
While butterflies in most parts of the continent disappearor drastically dwindle by autumn, the number of species and individuals in southern Texas increases exponentially. Even on overcast days, you can see hundreds and even thousands of butterflies. Over about a month in the combined last two Novembers, I found 118 different species.