Observation of the week: July 3-9, 2021

This week’s butterfly was observed by John (@jrudd1950) at one of Mississauga’s most well-known parks – The Riverwood Conservancy. While out on a nature walk John and his wife Marilyn spotted not just one but many Banded Hairstreaks feeding on milkweed.

Banded Hairstreak is the most common of the hairstreak species found in Eastern Canada. It can be found in abundant numbers throughout habitats such as woodlands, deciduous forest edges, roadsides and in urban areas where food for its caterpillars is present. Banded Hairstreak caterpillars can be found feeding on the underside of the leaves of some tree species including Oaks, American chestnuts, Walnuts, and Hickories.

Banded Hairstreaks can be relatively common if you look for them at the right time of year. Like our other hairstreak species, they only have a single brood per year, compared to other species who can have multiple broods per year. During late June to late August, adults can be seen flying from plant to plant searching for the sweet nectar of various Milkweed and Sumac species, Meadowsweet and New Jersey tea.

One thing you may have noticed about the Banded Hairstreak is its unique little tail located at the end of its hindwing. This tail, which is shown very clearly in the observation, is also present on other hairstreaks and plays a role in defending these butterflies from predators. When perched, the hairstreak will move its hindwings up and down, tricking predators into seeing a head. However, when predators go in for a bite the hairstreak will fly off in escape – leaving its tail behind! Imagine if we all had tails that tore off?

When observing Banded Hairstreaks, you may sometimes find big groups of males defending territory, fighting, and waiting for females along woodland trails. Females are commonly found in clusters feeding at nectar sites.

This sounds like what John and Marilyn may have stumbled across at The Riverwood Conservancy. John says: “It was a beautiful afternoon and we were exploring the “Wagon Trail” in the woods just north of the main parking lot. We were just about to turn off the trail when my wife spotted a small patch of Milkweed. We checked it out and were surprised to see the Milkweed was covered with Banded Hairstreaks. They are a beautiful little butterfly and best of all they sat still so photography was easy. We love cooperative butterflies.

Like some of our other participants, John and Marilyn took up butterflying during COVID. John says: “My wife and I have been birders for many years and took up butterfly watching last year when the COVID restrictions began to kick in. We needed to get outdoors for more nature and looking for butterflies is something you can [do] while staying socially distanced.

This past year and a half has been incredibly difficult, and we hope that this project also has encouraged you to get outside, learn about butterflies, and appreciate nature. If you are still searching for a special place to explore - whether you are new to spending time outdoors or not - John and Marilyn reminded us that “Riverwood is a very good place for seeing birds too. We also saw a couple of our favourite birds - a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Post written by Lily Vuong (@lilyvuong), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Anotado por lltimms lltimms, 13 de julio de 2021 a las 01:25 PM

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