A good case of the blues

There have been a couple very interesting records over the past few weeks. On June 27 Roy LaPointe found Greenish Blue at the St. Leonard Airport. This is the first record of the species for the MBA period, and the 50th species recorded by Roy in square 19EN82! Greenish Blue was fairly common in northern New Brunswick until at least the 1990s, but for some reason it appears to be absent from many areas it once inhabited. It is typically found at weedy sites such as roadsides where its host plants, clovers, are common. Given this habitat preference it is likely the species was absent in the Maritimes historically. The cause of the apparent recent decline is unclear. There is certainly lots of weedy habitat still available.

Greenish Blue. Photographed by Roy LaPointe June 27, 2015, at the Saint Leonard Airport.

Greenish Blue. Photographed by Roy LaPointe June 27, 2015, at the Saint Leonard Airport.

On June 7 and 8 Devin Johnstone and his son Brian found Eastern Tailed-Blue at two sites near Kentville. These are the earliest records for Eastern Tailed-Blue in Nova Scotia, all previous records have been from July or later. Eastern Tailed-Blue was only discovered in Nova Scotia in 2013. It has now been found in 8 different atlas squares in the province. Early season records like these, and repeat records like the ones that David Colville made in Moshers Corner, Annapolis County, in 2013 and 2014, are strong evidence that Eastern Tailed-Blue is successfully overwintering in Nova Scotia, and not recolonizing the province from further west each year.

Eastern Tailed-Blue. Photographed by Devin Johnstone near Kentville  in early June, 2015.

Eastern Tailed-Blue. Photographed by Devin Johnstone near Kentville in early June, 2015.

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Butterfly season well underway

CALLangu

Brown Elfin. Photographed 22 May, 2015, at the Tabu Airfield between Miramichi and Bathurst.

Well, the snow is all gone…at least in most places. Despite the few remaining patches there are butterflies out and about, including one of my favourite groups – the elfins. So far there have been reports of Brown ElfinHoary Elfin and Eastern Pine Elfin, and our other three species, Bog, Western Pine, and Henry’s, are undoubtedly flying too. The weather looks good next week, so make sure you get out to see these early fliers!

Good butterflying!

John Klymko
Director – Maritimes Butterfly Atlas
jklymko@mta.ca

PS: For additional photos and information on elfins check out Phil Schappert’s recent blog post here.

Lingering snow. Photographed 22 May, 2015, near the Tabu Airfield between Miramichi and Bathurst.

Lingering snow. Photographed 22 May, 2015, near the Tabu Airfield between Miramichi and Bathurst.

Northern Spring Azure. Photographed 22 May, 2015, at the Tabu Airfield between Miramichi and Bathurst.

Northern Spring Azure. Photographed 22 May, 2015, at the Tabu Airfield between Miramichi and Bathurst.

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Butterflies are just around the corner

It might not feel like it, but butterfly season is (nearly) upon us. I know of one butterfly sighting to date – a Mourning Cloak back on April 13 in Woodstock, NB. With the next warm spell I’m sure the first Atlas records for 2015 will be documented.

Last summer an excellent butterfly resource was released: The ROM Field Guide to Butterflies of Ontario. While the book obviously has an Ontario focus, it is the most concise field guide available for the 90 species that have been recorded in the Maritimes. Butterflies of Ontario features 167 species, whereas Butterflies of Canada features 293 species, and Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East features 625 species. This means less flipping through pages of species that couldn’t possibly occur here. Butterflies of Ontario features all Maritimes species except our coastal specialties: Short-tailed Swallowtail, Maritime Ringlet, and Salt Marsh Copper. So if you’re in the market for a field guide I highly recommend this new book. More information on it is available here. Butterflies of Ontario can be ordered from your local bookstore or from online vendors.

If you need any butterfly atlas supplies (envelopes, data cards, ectc) please let me know.

Cheers,
John

jklymko@mta.ca

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Final butterfly season of the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas comes to an end (UPDATE: ATLAS HAS BEEN EXTENDED BY A YEAR, FINAL YEAR IS 2015)

Hello Atlassers,

Except for the odd Monarch or Painted Lady that may still linger (both those were seen today by Derek Bridgehouse in Eastern Passage,) the butterfly season is finished. The end of the 2014 field season marks an important milestone for the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas – the end of the field portion of the project!

Over the past five seasons (2010-2014) atlassers have made an enormous effort to catalogue our butterflies. So far over 20,000 records have been submitted by more than 350 volunteers, and once all the 2014 data is tabulated the number of records will likely exceed 25,000. There have been numerous highlights during the course of the Atlas. Three species new to the Maritimes were recorded: Crossline Skipper (NB), Ocola Skipper (NB), and Peacock (NS). In addition, seven species were added to provincial lists (PEI: Eastern Comma; New Brunswick: American Snout, Fiery Skipper, Giant Swallowtail; Nova Scotia: Dorcas Copper, Eastern Tailed-Blue). And then there are all the new locations for rare species!

Now that the field component is complete, attention will turn to developing a final product. The plan is to publish the final Atlas results in a book in two or three years. As in past years, a newsletter highlighting the season’s findings will be released next spring.

Data collected in 2014, or any of the previous Atlas years, can be submitted at your convenience, though it would be appreciated if it were in by the end of February (thank you to all who have their data in already). If you have butterfly data that predates the Atlas then please contact me.

A huge thank you goes out to all of you who have participated in the project! The results to date have far exceeded initial expectations, and the 2014 data isn’t even compiled yet!

Cheers,

John

John Klymko
Director – Maritimes Butterfly Atlas
Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre
PO Box 6416, Sackville, NB E4L 1G6
(506)364-2660(tel)
http://accdc.com/butterflyatlas.html
jklymko@mta.ca

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More new locations for Eastern Tailed-Blue in Nova Scotia

The reports of Eastern Tailed-Blue from Nova Scotia keep coming in. Most recently the species was found by Andrew Danylewich at the Western Head Lighthouse, bringing the total number of reports for the year to four (it was documented at other sites by Rita Viau, Derek Bridgehouse, Leslie McClair, and David Colville). Andrew’s record is the furthest south the species has been found in the province (the first ever provincial records were just last year!). This species will be on the wing for at least a couple more weeks, last year the last report was October 6th. Perhaps the first ever record for Prince Edward Island can be found before the season is up! Below is a map showing the Nova Scotia locations for Eastern Tailed-Blue from this year and last.

Nova Scotian Eastern Tailed-Blue locations

Nova Scotia Eastern Tailed-Blue locations

While the season is starting to wind down, there is still more than a month of butterflying. Many species like Clouded Sulphur, Northern Crescent, and American Copper are still about. There have been many recent sightings of Monarchs. This species can show up just about anywhere, but this time of year it is most frequent near the coasts.

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Ocola Skipper on Campobello Island!

Another new butterfly species has been found in the Maritimes! This time it’s Ocola Skipper, an essentially tropical species whose permanent range gets as far north as Texas and Florida. On August 19th, Marcy Wagner of Lubec, Maine, photographed Ocola Skipper nectaring at Grass-leaved Goldenrod at Fox Farm, in Roosevelt Campobello International Park, on Campobello Island (approximate coordinates are 44.855756°N, 66.966224°W).

Ocola Skipper. The first record ever for New Brunswick and the Maritimes. Photographed by Marcy Wagner, taken August 19 on Campobello Island

Ocola Skipper. The first record ever for New Brunswick and the Maritimes. Photographed by Marcy Wagner on August 19 on Campobello Island

Ocola Skipper annually migrates north of its permanent range in the late summer. It has been recorded breeding as far north as Virginia, and in the past has wandered as far north as southern Ontario and Massachusetts. Campobello Island is the furthest north the species has ever been detected!

Ocola Skipper has been recorded in seven different years in southern Ontario. In four of those years multiple individuals were found, suggesting that when they stray as far north as Canada they do so in numbers. Therefore it is likely that other Ocola Skippers are about, so keep an eye out for this southern stray when you’re butterflying! As with other migrants, this species is most likely to be found in coastal areas. There is still lots of time for others to be found: all Ontario records are from September and October.

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European Peacock near Halifax!

Duff and Donna Evers discovered a European Peacock this week near Halifax! This is the first record for this Eurasian species from the Maritimes. There are other Canadian records from Montreal and Harriston (southern Ontario). The first record from Montreal dates back to 1997 and there have been several records since. Presumably there is a small population established there. The individuals at Halifax and Harriston likely originated from chrysalises brought in from Eurasia in shipping containers.

European Peacock. Photographed near Halifax by Peter Payzant on August 12.

European Peacock. Photographed near Halifax by Peter Payzant on August 12.

While you’re unlikely to find your own peacock, this is a great time of year to look for Eastern Tailed-Blue. David Colville had one in the past week in his yard in Mosher’s Corner, Nova Scotia. Derek Bridgehouse had another in Nova Scotia on July 22. Watch for this species in weedy habitats with a lot of clover. Last year we got the first ever records for Nova Scotia, maybe this year we can do the same for Prince Edward Island. And who knows, when you’re out looking maybe you’ll find a peacock too!

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