Thursday, 1 August 2013

Some Essex County butterflies from a few weekends back..

Since I haven't done too much birding/butterflying dragonflying etc lately, I'll keep posting photos from the July 20/21 weekend which I spent in Essex County.

One of the highlights for me was stumbling across my first Duke's Skipper. This is a rare species in Ontario, only occurring in a few locations in the extreme southwest of the province. They prefer field edges near freshwater swamps and I was walking through such habitat when a skipper alighted on some sedges beside the path. This species is distinguished from the similar Dion Skipper by the obvious yellow rays on the hindwing extending all the way to the margin of the wing. Unfortunately I had the settings on my camera a little off and ended up underexposing the photos, forcing me to heavily edit them in Photoshop.

It was about an hour later that Steve Pike yelled out he had a hairstreak. It ended up being a very worn Coral Hairstreak; my first ever.

Nearby was this damselfly. I still don't have a damselfly field guide and I'm too lazy to look it up on the Interwebs, so I'll leave it unidentified for now.

That afternoon, Steve and I went for a hike around the Springgarden ANSI in west Windsor to look for butterflies. Hairstreaks were abundant on the various prairie wildflowers and it was apparent that Edward's Hairstreaks had emerged a week or two ago in large numbers. They were everywhere it seemed! This also happened to be a new species for me.

A single Acadian Hairstreak was also not far away. Another lifer! It was turning out to be a great afternoon on the prairie, despite the hot and humid weather. Acadian Hairstreaks are often paler and slightly larger than the other regular species.They have a conspicuous submarginal row of orange spots on the hindwing, much like a Coral Hairstreak; however Coral Hairstreaks lack tails. The Edward's Hairstreak (above) has a postmedian row of spots as well, but each one is outlined in white.

Many of the hairstreaks were concentrated on the occasional patch of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa). I was surprised to come across a few coppers as well making use of this type of milkweed. They were American Coppers, another new species for me! Funny how I spent the better part of 2 summers wandering around this prairie, yet in one day I was able to add several lifers.

And a few more assorted odds and ends to finish up this post....


  1. Josh, great posting. Nice looks at the Dukes Skipper! I share your joy in finally finding an American Copper at Ojibway... They can be extremely local! Information is key in those cases. I've learned alot by joining the local butterfly counts. Good birding!-DM

  2. Eastern Forktail - Probably the most abundant ode in Ontario.

  3. Cool-looking Coral Hairstreak!
    Edwards' seemed to be more abundant compared to others this year.

    1. Blake, did you see any Northern Oak Hairstreaks this year at your spot?

    2. Only two northern oaks seen by myself this year. As a whole, it was a bad year for hairstreaks in this area!