Saturday 22 June 2019

Butterflies and other insects in Haliburton

Following my success with the Mottled Duskywing, I checked out a few other neat areas this past week.

I stopped for an hour at Sandy Lake Road, located north of Havelock in Peterborough County. This road traverses a nice variety of habitats including alvars, many types of wetlands, forests and more. Sandy Lake Road is located at the southern edge of the Canadian Shield and many of the "southern shield butterflies" can be found here, including Tawny Crescent, Colombine Duskywing, Two-spotted Skipper, etc. Butterfly diversity is especially high here and it is a place that I have never visited this late in June.

One of the highlights was stumbling across my very first Common Roadside Skipper, nectaring on some Balsam Ragwort. This tiny skipper species is fairly common in this part of Ontario but for some reason I had never scared one up before!

Common Roadside Skipper - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

With a bit of patience I was able to get a few better photos, though it took off for good before I could really steal its soul.
Common Roadside Skipper - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Indian Skippers have clearly emerged recently since that was the most abundant of the butterfly species present. This species is single-brooded and does not seem to have a long flight period, so it is easily missed.

Indian Skipper - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Indian Skipper - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Indian Skipper - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

It was a little late in the year for some of the other Sandy Lake Road specialties, like Henry's, Hoary and Brown Elfin, or Olympia Marble. Chyrxus Arctic should still be flying but they too remained out of sight. No doubt the time of day (late afternoon) had something to do with the modest diversity of butterfly species. I was also just a little too early to bother putting in a solid search for Two-spotted Skipper. Especially with the year that we are having, they too are likely a week or more behind schedule.

Hobomok Skipper - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Among the many dragonflies zooming around I picked out a number of Elfin Skimmers, which was a new one for me.

Elfin Skimmer - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Frosted and Hudsonian Whitefaces were easily seen and photographed.  I wish I had a working dragonfly net since there were several darners and others flying around that remained identified.

Frosted Whiteface - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

It pays to be alert while driving in this part of Ontario (or really, anywhere). I caught a glimpse of a large cervid out of the corner of my eye in a roadside marsh. I was a little disappointed, upon backtracking, to see that it was "only" a White-tailed Deer, not a moose as I had hoped.

White-tailed Deer - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Another excellent reason for being vigilant while on the road is the number of turtles that can be found crossing, especially in early and mid June. This year's nesting season is a bit delayed but all the turtles seemed to move this week. I saw close to a dozen Midland Painted Turtles, four Snapping Turtles and one Blanding's Turtle crossing the road during my travels on Tuesday and Wednesday. If possible, please stop and help them across the road! Road mortality may be the biggest threat facing Ontario's turtles and they need all the help they can get. The removal of a few adult turtles from a population could have serious consequences to the long-term viability of that population.

Midland Painted Turtle - Sandy Lake Road, Peterborough County

Snapping Turtle - City of Kawartha Lakes

Blanding's Turtle - City of Kawartha Lakes

Much of my time this week was spent just outside of the town of Haliburton. Wednesday morning's sunny skies and warm temperatures led to an explosion of insects out and about. Once I finished my breeding bird surveys I grabbed my camera for a walk about.

Hudsonian Whiteface - Haliburton County

Spiketails are a favorite genus of mine. These big, bold black and yellow dragonflies patrol streams and other small wetlands, and will often perch on nearby vegetation for a few minutes. This is a Delta-spotted Spiketail, taking a short break.

Delta-spotted Spiketail - Haliburton County

Several representatives of the genus Phanogomphus are commonly found throughout this part of Ontario. This is a notoriously difficult group and a good look at the reproductive bits are required to identify certain species. This one keys out as Dusky Clubtail.  

Dusky Clubtail - Haliburton County

Chalk-fronted Corporal and Four-spotted Skimmer were two of the most abundant species, not unexpected given the location and time of year. These species also happen to be quite easy to photograph since they will rest on or near the ground frequently.

Chalk-fronted Corporal - Haliburton County

Four-spotted Skimmer - Haliburton County

I've never really taken the time to look at one of these pygmy grasshoppers before. According to the keen minds of iNaturalist, this is Tetrix subulata, a widespread species found across much of Eurasia and North America.

Slender Groundhopper - Haliburton County

White Bog Violet is one of my favorite members of the genus Viola. Fortunately they were abundant in this area.

White Bog Violet - Haliburton County

A nice variety of butterflies were on the wing, especially preferring the sandy road that cut through mixed forest, with a meandering stream and associated cattail and sedge marsh found nearby. It was nice to see that the spring form of Mustard White was still flying.

Question Mark - Haliburton County

Mustard White - Haliburton County

Hobomok Skipper - Haliburton County

And of course, some tiger beetle fun...

Bronzed Tiger Beetle - Haliburton County

I was thrilled to come across this species; a new one for me. This is a Twelve-spotted Tiger Beetle, a relatively uncommon species that prefers sandy areas near wetlands.

Twelve-spotted Tiger Beetle - Haliburton County

Amphibian life is abundant in the mixed forests and wetlands of Haliburton County. As I walked I frequently scared up Northern Leopard Frogs or American Toads. Evidence of the latter species was very obvious at the fringes of a man-made pond, where thousands of American Toad tadpoles lurked around the edges.

Northern Leopard Frog - Haliburton County

Arctic Skipper is one of my favorite species in the group, in no small part due to their awesome pattering. Despite their name Arctic Skippers are quite common in central Ontario, but they do also range quite far north (not quite making it to the Arctic, though!).

Arctic Skipper

Duskywings are another favorite of mine and I have put in a lot of time this spring to see their diversity, and attempt to figure out their identifications. Dreamy Duskywing is one of the easier ones to identify since it lacks white apical spots in the forewing, and exhibits a distinctive silvery flush over much of its forewings.

Dreamy Duskywing - Haliburton County

I photographed a few more "odes" on my way out to my car.

Beaverpond Clubtail - Haliburton County

Aurora Damsel - Haliburton County

Racket-tailed Emerald - Haliburton County

Common Whitetail - Haliburton County

My next post will cover a few hours of exploration at the Carden Alvar, where I had one more particular butterfly I was hoping to encounter.

1 comment:

Gail from Gelert said...

A very nice selection of photos! I am interested in identifying 2 rather large worm-like insects that we have photographed near our Haliburton cabin. Can you help?