Which fritillary? Participants found Great Spangled, Atlantis, Silver-bordered, Meadow, and a record number of Aphrodite Fritillaries on 4 July 2020. Photo by Li-Shien Lee.

Despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, a small dedicated group of 18 OFNC members undertook this year’s butterfly count. This annual count is part of the North American Butterfly Association’s census of butterflies across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Our local count takes place at Mannion Corners, an area where a diversity of habitats host a great variety of butterflies. Participants cover an area 24 km in diameter in a single day.

Harris’s Checkerspot, photographed by Arnet Shepherd.

Two-spotted Skipper, photographed by Jeff Skevington.

This year, the rarest finds were Harris’s Checkerspot and Two-spotted Skipper (see photos above); these species have been found in only 2 and 3 years, respectively, since the count began in 1998. The Little Glassywing, pictured below, is also fairly rare.

Little Glassywing, photographed by Arnet Shepherd.

Overall numbers have increased over the last few years after worryingly low counts in 2017. This year, 1854 butterflies were tallied (57 species), compared with only 661 (43 species) in 2017 and record all-time high numbers – 3788 butterflies in 2009 and 58 species in 2015.

Thanks to everyone who participated! Ken and David Allison, Suzanne Deschênes, Julia and Derek Ellis, Elizabeth Gammell, Peter and Judy Hall, Andrew Keavney, Li-Shien Lee, Diane Lepage, Michelle Locke, Gillian Marston, Michael Olsen, Arnet Sheppard, Jeff and Angela Skevington.

Tally for the 2020 count

Totals for all years from 1998

Not all exciting finds were butterflies. Here, Angela Skevington holds a Smooth Green Snake found during the count. Photo by Jeff Skevington.