Special to The Record
Butterflies are among the most beautiful, charismatic, and fascinating creatures on earth.
They are an integral part of our biodiversity and play significant roles as pollinators and part of the food chain.
Unfortunately, their populations are being decimated and many species are either endangered or at risk.
Part of the problem is human ignorance. How many people know that butterflies are with us all year but are in hibernation much of the time? How many know that various species hibernate as adults, larvae, pupae, or eggs? How many know that some species only fly for one or two weeks before they die?
How many know that 70 species have been documented on Vancouver Island?
Butterflies can be found almost everywhere, from sea level to the mountain peaks, but some of their best habitats are also coveted by humans for development or recreation.
For example, Garry oak meadows are prime butterfly habitats but 95 per cent of the Island’s meadows have been destroyed for human use.
Granted, land is required for development, but there should be greater consideration for protecting some of the most sensitive habitats where biodiversity is at risk.
April and May are great months to get out in nature and learn about butterflies and all the other wonderful aspects of our natural world.
Explore the quiet country roads, meadows, parks, and open areas.
You’ll be amazed at what you can find when you have a focus. Some butterflies will fly as soon as the warm weather persists because they have hibernated as adults or pupae. Others will be later because they have hibernated as eggs or larvae and have to wait for their host plants to grow.
Butterflies will be flying throughout the spring and summer so get out, find them, enjoy them, learn about them, and maybe help protect them – not just for you, but for generations to follow.
Mike Yip is a professional photographer, specializing in nature photograph of birds and butterflies on Vancouver Island