More Hairstreaks!

Last weekend Phil Schappert and Derek Bridgehouse ventured to Wallace Bay in the hopes of finding Bronze Copper. In addition to finding their target, they found Acadian Hairstreak in two different Atlas squares. These are the first Nova Scotia records of the species from the Atlas period! Scott Makepeace had similar success in New Brunswick on the weekend, refinding them near Gagetown at a site he discovered in 2012, and finding them with Dwayne Sabine in a new square in Fredericton. At the Gagetown site there were at least 13 present, and at Fredericton they also found Banded Hairstreak!

Acadian Hairstreak. Found near Wallace Bay on July 20 by Phil Schappert and Derek Bridgehouse. Photograph by Phil Schappert.

Acadian Hairstreak. Found near Wallace Bay on July 20 by Phil Schappert and Derek Bridgehouse. Photograph by Phil Schappert.

Acadian Hairstreak occurs in small colonies in habitats with willow, their larval host plant. Sites Scott visited were fields that are occasionally mowed or “brush-hogged”. Both sites had a lot of willow amongst the grass and other shrubs. The butterflies were difficult to see unless they were flushed from the willows. To find them it helps to tap on the bushes with a net or stick, scaring up the butterflies. For more information on surveying for Acadian Hairstreak see the target species guide.

This appears to be a good year for Acadian Hairstreak, so it’s a great time to find new populations! While there’s no guarantee you’ll find the species (many seemingly suitable sites are unoccupied), it is guaranteed that you’ll find other butterflies while you’re looking!

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Recent Atlas highlights

Most summer butterflies are in full gear. Now is a great time of year to add skippers to your square’s list. Dun Skipper, Tawny-edged Skipper, Long Dash, Peck’s Skipper, and European Skipper are quite common in meadows these days.

There have been a couple of great records out of Nova Scotia recently. Derek Bridgehouse and Phil Schappert picked up Northern Cloudywing near Debert last week. This is well west of any other Atlas-period Nova Scotia records, so their record fills in a significant gap! Prior to the Atlas there were very few records of Northern Cloudywing from Nova Scotia.

Striped Hairstreak. Found by Mark Elderkin in Kentville on July 10

Banded Hairstreak. Found by Mark Elderkin in Kentville on July 10

On July 10 Mark Elderkin found 10 Banded Hairstreaks at a patch of milkweed behind the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division offices in Kentville. This is a new square for the species. So far it has been found in just four other squares, two in Nova Scotia and two in New Brunswick. This You can check out more Mark’s great shots here.

Good butterflying!


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Bring on the summer

The summer season is upon us! White Admiral and Viceroy are now present in fair numbers, and elfins are on their last legs. Soon Atlantis and Great Spangled Fritillaries will once again be filling the fields. Many of the species highlighted in the Atlas’ target species document are now flying, check it out for information on Silvery Checkerspot, Two-spotted Skipper, and Baltimore Checkerspot.

Northern Pearly-Eye, coming soon to a forested trail near you

Northern Pearly-Eye, coming soon to a forested trail near you

This is the final summer of the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas, so let’s try to make the most of it. There are a number of great tools on the Atlas webpage that can help you focus your survey efforts, like the distribution maps, survey effort map, and flight times table.

Good Butterflying!

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First Atlas record for Early Hairstreak!

Early Hairstreak is among the Maritimes’ rarest butterfly species. Larvae of Early Hairstreak feed on the nuts of American Beech, and as a result the species is only found in hardwood stands with mature beech trees. Within these habitats Early Hairstreak is seldom encountered, though it is possible that adults spend most of their time in the forest canopy, resulting in very low levels of detection. Though it has been found in the past at sites in all three Maritimes provinces, the species hadn’t been found in during the Atlas period until now.

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On June 8, Roy LaPointe photographed the above butterfly just north of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, near Edmundston. Early Hairstreak typically flies mid May to mid June, though with this year’s delayed season it might be on the wing until late June. If you can get into some mature hardwoods with beech keep your eyes peeled! When it is encountered it is typically at wet patches on roads (this is where Roy found his) or visiting flowers.  

Now that Early Hairstreak has been found the only regularly occurring species not recorded during the Atlas period is Greenish Blue. In the past this species has been fairly common in northern New Brunswick on roadsides and other weedy habitats with lots of clovers. It should be flying now or very soon, so be sure to double check your blues and azures.

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Early June butterflying

The season is starting to pick up, with new species on the wing all the time. Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is now out in force, and Hobomok Skipper is starting to appear along grassy paths. Some of our rarer species are just starting too. Meadow Fritillary, Common Roadside Skipper, and Pepper and Salt Skipper are all flying. Refer to the Target Species document for more information.

Eastern Pine Elfin – currently flying in and around woods with White Pine and Jack Pine

The Atlas website has been updated. All the old content is still there, but there are some new features like the survey effort map. Use this map to target your surveys this year. Last years tabular results are also posted.

Good butterflying everyone!



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Got Elfins?

Elfins were found at a number of locations over the weekend. Mark Elderkin took this shot of a Hoary Elfin near Black River Lake, Kings County, on the 17th. He also got Brown Elfin, check out the photo on his blog. All the elfin species will be out for the next few weeks, watch for them on sunny days.


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2014 butterfly season well under way!

After a winter that seemed like it would never end, butterflies are a very welcome sight! There have been observations of at least ten species so far this year (Cabbage White, Mustard White, Northern Spring Azure, Eastern Comma, Grey Comma, Mourning Cloak, Hoary Elfin, Brown Elfin, Painted Lady, and American Lady), and there are another dozen species that should also be flying (Bog Elfin, Henry’s Elfin, Eastern Pine Elfin, Western Pine Elfin, Juvenal’s Duskywing, Hoary Comma, Satyr Comma, Green Comma, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, Compton Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Harvester). The warm weather in the forecast is a welcome sight, so get out there and take advantage of it!


Northern Spring Azure – a welcome sight after a long winter

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