This has been a busy and exciting year for everyone associated with the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project. Community volunteers, Ministry of Environment (BC Parks) staff and contracted crews spent many winter and spring days in the Denman Island Park and Protected Area Butterfly Reserve, removing Scotch Broom and felling trees that were encroaching on meadow areas needed for butterfly habitat. They planted butterfly food and larval host plants in and around small ponds that were constructed last year, and installed an information kiosk and benches nearby.
On Hornby Island crews removed young shade trees and invasive plants in a 0.35 ha. coastal bluff area of Helliwell Provincial Park where Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies used to live. The area was planted and seeded with meadow vegetation and is being maintained by BC Parks staff, contractors and volunteers. A BC Parks survey conducted in August and September revealed high public support for the habitat restoration work conducted to date and proposed future actions.
Meanwhile, at the Taylor’s Checkerspot Conservation Breeding Facility (TCCBF) larvae emerged from their overwintering diapause state. TCCBF manager Peter Karsten and his helpers carefully tended to their needs and prepared the most robust larvae for a historic event. After years of planning and preparation, the first Taylor’s Checkerspot larvae from a Canadian breeding facility were released into the Butterfly Reserve in late March and early April.
A few weeks later 57 adult butterflies were also released.As the butterflies settled into their new home in the Buttefly Reserve, Andrew Fyson and John Mills of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group (TCCWG) were thrilled to watch three females lay eggs!
The recovery project wants to share the excitement with Denman Islanders during a Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project Open House event at Back Hall on December 2. Doors open at 6:30 pm for those who wish to mingle and look at the information posters. Presentations begin at 7 pm. Project partners (BC Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, Denman Conservancy Association, Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Greater Vancouver Zoo, TCCWG, TCCBF, and Wildlife Preservation Canada) will provide updates about the project and plans for the future. There will be a video, information posters, slide shows, and refreshments.
The butterflies still need help from their friends to survive. If you wish to volunteer to help maintain butterfly habitat in Denman Park and Protected Area, please contact John Mills, Co-Chair of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are interested in helping with the native plant garden in the Butterfly Reserve or want to help restore Helliwell Park’s coastal bluff habitat, contact Volunteer Coordinator Deborah Bishop.
While the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly (TCB) larvae continue to slumber through the winter, TCB Project participants are busy working on several initiatives:
and Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, a paid crew and volunteers made more than four hectares of habitat in Denman Island Provincial Park more suitable for Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies (TCBs). The work mainly consisted of limbing or felling trees and saplings that were shading and encroaching on butterfly meadow habitat. Under the direction of Andrew Fyson, the crew also improved conditions for the TCBs on large portions of properties managed by the Denman Conservancy Association.