PART 1 – Reintroductions

PART 2 – Surveys

Erin and Wajed, members of WPC’s mottled duskywing recovery team, take us into the field and show exactly how caterpillars are reintroduced to the landscape, and the monitoring that follows.

 

The star of the show: the mottled duskywing. We would argue it is the most charismatic of the duskywing butterflies.

After several decades of local extinction (known as extirpation), WPC’s Mottled Duskywing Release Monitoring Team, in association with The Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery Team, is using the best available science, and years of research to reintroduce the endangered mottled duskywing butterfly to Pinery Provincial Park.

It’s not often you get to experience reintroducing a once extirpated species. In fact, this is the first ever butterfly reintroduction in Ontario, and this is the first year of the project. So, in more ways than one, this is a year of firsts; because of this I feel our job title should be trailblazer or pioneer.

WPC’s Mottled Duskywing Release Monitoring Team from left to right Erin, Amber, Mitch, and Wajed.

In an acorn-shell, it is our job as butterfly recovery trailblazers to answer questions.

  • What life-stage is most successful after release?
  • What habitat is most suitable?
  • Are the captive-raised butterflies behaving like wild butterflies?
  • What are the movement patterns of the released mottled duskywing?

How do we find the answer to these questions?

Science! Picture science in your mind. Are you envisioning someone in a lab coat, with bubbling flasks and colourful tubes? In species conservation most scientists are outfitted in khakis and hiking boots.

These scientists are out standing in their field. (Okay, they’re kneeling.)

We find answers, and often more questions, by trying everything. We have reintroduced mottled duskywing caterpillars, pupae and adult butterflies throughout Pinery. Through careful and diligent monitoring by the field crew, we will determine which reintroduction method works best. What we learn this year, will pave the road to recovery for the mottled duskywing and other similar efforts.

Jessica Linton, the godmother of mottled duskywing research in Ontario holding one of her godchildren.

Part of our daily surveying routine is checking in on the status of pupal mottled duskywings.

Mitchell Gardiner

Mottled Duskywing Reintroduction – Field Crew Leader

Mitch is currently pursuing his BSc at Trent University, where he is majoring in Conservation Biology. He will be completing his undergraduate studies in the spring of 2022. Past experience in tallgrass prairie stewardship, and an interest in lepidoptery has given Mitch the opportunity to work closely with the mottled duskywing butterfly.

Mitch enjoys learning about new species and meeting the conservation experts. What he appreciates most about conservation is fostering a passion and respect for nature in others.

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