This March, Hornby Island Natural History Centre volunteers assisted wildlife recovery specialists with the release of 400 Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly caterpillars into Helliwell Park. The larvae were released into flagged areas that were abundant with plantain, which they love to feast on. Signs have been placed nearby to alerting passerby to stay off the grassy areas to avoid treading on the caterpillars.
For several years, the Natural History stewards have been assisting the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Team by growing native plants in their yards and greenhouses on Hornby Island. Each year, the school students assist the volunteers and recovery team with planting these native plants, as well as weeding in the park. These plants will support the rare butterflies as well as many other insect species, including pollinators such as bees, which are key members of natural ecosystems.
If all goes as planned, you may be lucky to spot the small black, white, and orange checker-winged butterflies flittering around the meadow by mid-May!
- The Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly was officially listed as an endangered species in 2013.
- The butterflies are small, with a wingspan of less than 6 centimeters.
- In the spring, an adult may lay clusters of up to 1200 eggs.
- Once believed to have disappeared from Canada, in 2005, 15 Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies were observed on Denman Island.
- The butterflies thrive in Garry oak ecosystems, such as found in Helliwell Park, which are rare.