Endangered butterfly species to be reintroduced to Hornby Island

Hornby Island is about to play a major role in the saving of a butterfly species.

This March, up to 8oo Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly caterpillars will be relocated from the Greater Vancouver Zoo where they were raised, to their new home in Helliwell Provincial Park, on Hornby.

The federally listed endangered butterflies haven’t been seen in the park for more than two decades. It was their last known location in Canada when they disappeared from the area in the mid-1990s. Biologists feared that they were gone forever from the country. Fortunately, two Taylor’s checkerspot populations have been found in the past 15 years; one on Denman Island and one near Campbell River. Biologists are regarding the return to Helliwell as a biological insurance policy.

ALSO: Research shows climate change silencing spots once buzzing with bees

One of the greatest threats to the caterpillars and their food plants is trampling. Park visitors and their pets can help reduce this risk by staying on the marked meadow trails delineated by ropes and “restoration area” signs. Please note that dogs must be on a leash according to provincial park regulations. Please do not move or pick up Taylor’s checkerspots. Take photos instead to report sightings to Taylors.Checkerspot@gov.bc.ca.

Years of planning, preparation, considerable funding (federal, provincial and non-governmental sources), and collaborative efforts by the Taylor’s Checkerspot Recovery Project Team was required to reach the goal of bringing the butterflies back to Hornby Island. Butterfly experts from the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, U.B.C, and consultants on the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team began developing recovery strategies and plans for the species in 2005.

Meadow habitat restoration activities such as selective tree limbing and removal by BC Parks staff and contractors; weeding; and installing native plants and seeds by community volunteers, Hornby Island Natural History Centre, local schoolchildren, and consultants from Saanich Native Plants have occurred since 2015. Peter Karsten on Denman Island initiated the Taylor’s checkerspot breeding and rearing program in 2013. It continues at the Greater Vancouver Zoo with support from Wildlife Preservation Canada. Monitoring the butterfly populations has been ongoing for decades.

Hopefully enough funding will be secured to monitor the butterfly populations and to continue with habitat restoration and butterfly reintroductions for several years until the Taylor’s checkerspot population is securely re-established on Hornby Island. The hope is for future generations of visitors to Helliwell Provincial Park to see the striking orange, black and white butterflies flying from flower to flower to seek nectar. The tiny winged jewels are a joy to watch and a sign of a healthy coastal bluff meadow ecosystem.

This recovery project benefits hundreds of species that range within the rare coastal bluff ecosystems of British Columbia. Although focused on Taylor’s Checkerspot, other beneficiary species include Dun Skipper and about a dozen other range-restricted butterflies, Western Bumble Bee, many native plants, Western Screech-Owl and numerous other birds.

Comox Valley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Nanaimo company offering free soil for self-isolators to get into gardening

Milner Group inviting the public to pick up soil at its Biggs Road recycling facility on Saturday

Nanaimo man, allegedly drunk and high, arrested after climbing 100-foot tree

Man in sandals climbs fir tree, hurls obscenities at police below

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RDN’s essential services maintained during pandemic

Regional District of Nanaimo chairman thanks residents for co-operation and understanding

Nanaimo musician raises funds for the White Room through live stream concert

Elise Boulanger will host her live stream concert on Thursday, April 9 at 6:00 pm

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Clarity on COVID-19 locations would help

Why can’t Island Health just say the city where cases occur, asks letter writer

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Nanaimo bylaw officers on the lookout for COVID-19 control infractions

Bylaw and health officers watch for health order infractions, citizens can call in complaints

Nanaimo barbershop quartet records musical tribute to Dr. Bonnie Henry

Ode to provincial health officer is to the tune of a singing valentine

Nanaimo’s Lauren Spencer-Smith advances to American Idol top 20

Teen performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Nanaimo will be the community hardest-hit by ferry layoffs, union says

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union looking at its legal options

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

Most Read