#Teambutterfly in Pinery Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron, ON, has made crucial advancements in the ongoing mottled duskywing reintroduction project. Working with endangered species is nothing new to me. In the past, I have found myself surveying/mapping populations of rare flower species and working with endangered turtles in provincially significant habitats. This project allows me to apply my understanding of Pinery and my skills regarding vegetation surveys, operating GPS equipment, and handling endangered butterflies. So far, it’s been a positively amazing and beneficial experience. Well now, enough about me… let’s talk about the butterflies, shall we?

After noting the coordinates where team members observed female mottled duskywing butterflies ovipositing back in May, we returned to these same plants in July and began searching through each and every stem with the hopes of locating a caterpillar. By mid June, the team located three separate mottled duskywing larvae, which was a milestone for the project in Pinery! These discoveries helped us determine the age and location of the larvae. With this information, the team started to anticipate a second generation of mottled duskywing adults emerging in the near future.

These fresh adult males were seen basking out in the open, waiting for a potential mate. Notice the missing scales on the right wings of the second individual. This suggests he has been busy defending his territory or maybe had a close encounter with a predator.

We dusted off our nets and searched for the new generation of fresh duskywing adults. It wasn’t long until two males were sighted; one each on the 12th, and the 13th of July. This was solid evidence that we were at the precipice of a second flight period in Pinery. Typically, mottled duskywing males will emerge first and wait until fresh females are on the wing. Mating and ovipositing usually occur soon after. On July 14th, on a beautiful bluebird day, I sighted two adult individuals joined at the abdomen! Myself and my coworker Michelle were ecstatic as we snapped dozens of pictures, and documented this first-time discovery for the project.

Two adult mottled duskywing can be observed mating as the male transfers a sperm ‘package’ to the female’s abdomen.

With the next ‘batch’ of conservation-reared mottled duskywing individuals arriving soon from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, we hope to be very busy with releasing even more butterflies here in the upcoming weeks. #Teambutterfly is committed to monitoring the population that is slowly but surely returning to the wild.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of last year’s team in Pinery, our project leads and partners, and everyone involved in breeding these butterflies at the conservatory. The reintroduction of mottled duskywing would not be possible without the support and groundwork of many dedicated people.

In the meantime, #Teambutterfly is gearing up towards a crucial end-of-season here in Pinery. Setting the stage for more success stories next year. We are collectively thrilled regarding the evidence of a healthy population in the park. The butterflies still need our help, but we are definitely on the right track.

Ethan Quenneville

Field Assistant – Mottled Duskywing Recovery

Ethan is a graduate of Fleming College, where he studied Environmental Technology. He has a keen interest in insects, plants, and reptiles. He enjoys working outdoors and is always seeking opportunities to participate in the realm of conservation sciences.