Monday, August 4, 2014

Pelee Butterflies: Check the Knapweed!

The weather was excellent today (never go by long-range forecasts!) so I took advantage and headed to Point Pelee.  The last two times I went the weather was iffy, but I wanted to get a decent day of butterfly watching.

American Painted-Lady

I did not arrive too early today and walked to the Tip.  I stood there for a while enjoying the onshore breeze. Tons of swallows again today with some gulls, terns, and a few shorebirds.  Three Sanderlings, 1 Least, 2 Spotted Sandpipers were at the tip.

Not too much flying over the lake.  Some Black Terns flew by at one point.
After the tourists started arriving, it was time to leave and head up west beach trail.  It is not blocked off anymore (not that it would stop me!) so it was clear sailing.

I noted that many butterflies were flying today compared to the past.  At the serengeti tree, a skipper caught my eye.  Funny thing, it had me baffled at first until I realized it was a Fiery Skipper (female)!

The first Buckeye of the day was here as well.

Other skippers of the day included Silver-spotted, Northern Broken-Dash and Dun.

Both 'lady' butterflies were seen today.

I actually walked that portion of west beach trail twice as there seemed to be much activity.  However, the most numerous lep was the male Gypsy moth.  Not sure what is going on, but I have seem them everywhere lately in big numbers. I do not recall seeing so many.

I always check out the south end of Northwest Beach (the old parking lot area).  More Buckeye were here, and a little farther south on the trail, I found another Fiery Skipper.

Upon finishing west beach trail, I met Bob and Karen Yukich who had just come back from Pelee Island. Nothing spectacular was found on that count, but Karen did find one Fiery Skipper.

Have you noted what most of these butterflies are nectaring on?  As invasive as Spotted Knapweed is, it is an important nectaring source for butterflies and other insects.  Right now, there is not much else out in flower in certain areas except knapweed.  I have countless photos of butterflies on knapweed, many of which are uncommon to rare!

Knapweed is everywhere and can cause problems with other plants as it competes for nutrients.It also prevents some other plants from growing in the immediate area by producing a chemical toxin.  Apparently, Spotted Knapweed was introduced along the west coast of North America in the late 1800's particularly Victoria B.C. (1893).


  1. Blake, nice finds along west beach. Has anyone seen a Juniper Hairstreak at Pelee this year?

  2. Dwayne, Haven't heard of any reports of Olive Hairstreaks. Second brood should be out by now. I may have had one today south of serengeti tree but this individual kept flying and went out of sight!