DSCN0743DSCN0740Welcome Paige Whitehead our new Scientific Assistant of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Conservation Breeding Facility. Paige was selected from over 30 applicants for the position. She is in the home stretch of her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Environmental Studies and brings a lot of experience in experimental research procedures, data collection and analysis, cataloging photo files, report writing, and organizing education programs to the project.

Paige met her first Taylor’s Checkerspot during the morning feeding session and her passion for the care of butterflies is undeniable. I will let Paige give you her impression of her first day at the TCCBF.

– Peter Karsten

Firstly I want to thank Peter and everyone involved with the TCCBF Restoration Project for their confidence in choosing me for this position. I am looking forward to a summer of rewarding scientific work, learning in depth knowledge of these delicate creatures, and supporting the vital community programs which make this project possible. I arrived to Denman on Tuesday morning and Peter put me straight to work feeding the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies in the facility. I am amazed at the calm, curious demeanour of these gorgeous insects. He also filled me in on the many groups who are invested in this restoration plan. I am now up to date on the scope of this project and know the basics of caring for the butterflies from ova to adult.

Butterflies find shelter during rainy days then will fly up to bask in the sun on warmer days. Today the sun broke through the clouds (which have been hanging around the past few days) so it was the perfect time to observe butterflies in the wild. Peter and I drove to an old logging site which provides ideal habitat for Taylors Checkerspot Butterflies. The meadow is open and sunny, and deep ruts created by logging machinery fill with water so the butterflies favourite food, Veronica and Plantago, can thrive. We saw three Checkerspots which is rare for this late in the season.

We plan on using my time here to collect detailed information about the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly life cycle while grown in captivity to establish a species baseline. This information is important as a benchmark to judge effectiveness of conservation efforts.

– Paige Whitehead

Paige feeding the Checkerspot a mixture of honey and protein supplement.

Paige feeding the Checkerspot a mixture of honey and protein supplement.