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News

Rare Butterflies Are Getting By With A Lot Of Help From Their Friends

Reclaiming the butterfly meadow. Photo: Peter Karsten

Reclaiming the butterfly meadow. Photo: Peter Karsten

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.

Savannah and Forrest look for newly released Checkerspot larvae in the Butterfly Reserve. Photo: Peter Karsten

Savannah and Forrest look for newly released Checkerspot larvae in the Butterfly Reserve. Photo: Peter Karsten

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.

Taylor's Checkerspot Butterflies shortly after release from the Conservation Breeding Facility.

Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies shortly after release from the Conservation Breeding Facility. Photo: Andrew Fyson

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!

Checkerspot eggs laid in the BC Parks Denman Butterfly Reserve.

Checkerspot eggs laid in the BC Parks Denman Butterfly Reserve. Photo: Andrew Fyson

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 (tatlowpark@gmail.com). 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.

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