UPDATE – MAY 2016
- More than 99% of the larvae that overwintered at the Taylor’s Checkerspot Breeding Facility (TCCBF) on Denman Island emerged from the diapause phase. This phenomenal survival rate is a testament to the expert care provided by TCCBF manager Peter Karsten and his dedicated group of volunteers.
- In March, local residents and BC Ministry of Environment staff released nearly 1,300 larvae into a butterfly reserve in Denman Island Provincial Park and Protected Area.
- 100 larvae were moved to the conservation breeding facility at the Greater Vancouver Zoo (GVZ) on April 1st. The GVZ has taken on the TCB captive breeding role with support from Wildlife Preservation Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment. Peter will continue to share his experience during the transition period.
- Adult Checkerspots were spotted flying in the Denman Island butterfly reserve in mid-April, which was several weeks earlier than usual.
- The first adult Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly at the Greater Vancouver Zoo emerged from its chrysalis on April 28th. At least 30 were flitting about by May 3rd, and there were 88 adults by mid-May. They will be the foundation for the TC conservation breeding program at the Zoo.
UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2015
This has been a busy and exciting year for everyone associated with the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project. Community volunteers, Ministry of Environment (BC Parks) staff and contracted crews spent many winter and spring days in the Denman Island Park and Protected Area Butterfly Reserve, removing Scotch Broom and felling trees that were encroaching on meadow areas needed for butterfly habitat. They planted butterfly food and larval host plants in and around small ponds that were constructed last year, and installed an information kiosk and benches nearby.
On Hornby Island crews removed young shade trees and invasive plants in a 0.35 ha. coastal bluff area of Helliwell Provincial Park where Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies used to live. The area was planted and seeded with meadow vegetation and is being maintained by BC Parks staff, contractors and volunteers. A BC Parks survey conducted in August and September revealed high public support for the habitat restoration work conducted to date and proposed future actions.
Meanwhile, at the Taylor’s Checkerspot Conservation Breeding Facility (TCCBF) larvae emerged from their overwintering diapause state. TCCBF manager Peter Karsten and his helpers carefully tended to their needs and prepared the most robust larvae for a historic event. After years of planning and preparation, the first Taylor’s Checkerspot larvae from a Canadian breeding facility were released into the Butterfly Reserve in late March and early April.
A few weeks later 57 adult butterflies were also released.As the butterflies settled into their new home in the Buttefly Reserve, Andrew Fyson and John Mills of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group (TCCWG) were thrilled to watch three females lay eggs!
The recovery project wants to share the excitement with Denman Islanders during a Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project Open House event at Back Hall on December 2. Doors open at 6:30 pm for those who wish to mingle and look at the information posters. Presentations begin at 7 pm. Project partners (BC Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, Denman Conservancy Association, Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Greater Vancouver Zoo, TCCWG, TCCBF, and Wildlife Preservation Canada) will provide updates about the project and plans for the future. There will be a video, information posters, slide shows, and refreshments.
The butterflies still need help from their friends to survive. If you wish to volunteer to help maintain butterfly habitat in Denman Park and Protected Area, please contact John Mills, Co-Chair of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are interested in helping with the native plant garden in the Butterfly Reserve or want to help restore Helliwell Park’s coastal bluff habitat, contact Volunteer Coordinator Deborah Bishop.
UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2015
While the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly (TCB) larvae continue to slumber through the winter, TCB Project participants are busy working on several initiatives:
- At the Taylor’s Checkerspot Conservation Breeding Facility (TCCBF), 450 larvae are being monitored during their winter diapause phase. Many larvae in the wild perish during diapause, but we are cautiously optimistic that there will be lots of healthy larvae at the TCCBF for the breeding program or translocation to Denman Island Provincial Park in 2015.
- TCCBF Manager Peter Karsten is completing a comprehensive TCB husbandry manual and is working with Wildlife Preservation Canada to secure funding to hire a student to assist with butterfly care during the hectic breeding and rearing season. Peter, with input from various members of the Invertebrates at Risk Recovery Implementation Group and the Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group, has also drafted several outreach materials (interpretive panels for an information kiosk that will be installed in the Butterfly Reserve this spring, a PowerPoint presentation, display posters, a TCB food garden manual and pamphlet for landowners).
- With guidance and support from BC Ministry of Environment, BC Parks,
and Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, a paid crew and volunteers made more than four hectares of habitat in Denman Island Provincial Park more suitable for Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies (TCBs). The work mainly consisted of limbing or felling trees and saplings that were shading and encroaching on butterfly meadow habitat. Under the direction of Andrew Fyson, the crew also improved conditions for the TCBs on large portions of properties managed by the Denman Conservancy Association.
- Volunteer Coordinator, Deb Bishop is growing TCB food plants for the Taylor’s Checkerspot Conservation Breeding Facility and the Butterfly Reserve in Denman Island Park. If you would like to help with planting or weeding, please contact Deborah Bishop.
- Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group Co-chair, John Mills is planning more volunteer work parties to control Scotch Broom and other invasive vegetation in the Butterfly Reserve. If you enjoy nipping alien invaders in the bud, send an email message to John at: email@example.com.
- Our Invertebrates at Risk Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) Chair, Jenny Heron, is developing an overarching TCB Habitat Enhancement and Translocation Plan with many of the RIG members contributing sections. This ‘living document’ will be updated annually and is intended to guide the key TCB Project work. We expect that the plan will be ready to post in the TCB Project section of the website within a few months.