Butterfly population declining

Monique Chiasson
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TRURO - If you have noticed less butterflies this summer you are not the only one.
Jeff Ogden, a Shubenacadie-based forest health specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, said there has been an abnormal decrease of butterflies in the area this summer.
"There are not too many reports of butterflies this year. I've gone out specifically looking for them in portions of Truro, Cumberland County and Pictou and they are almost non-existent. It's puzzling," Ogden told the Truro Daily News Wednesday.
Ogden said last year yielded much better results.
"I could've collected at least five species every trip out and ... at least nine species two years ago."
Ogden said there are traditionally more than 53 species of butterflies in Nova Scotia and "easily" 35 species in the Truro area.
Ogden said it's unclear why the numbers appear to be down in this area, especially when wet spring weather would have indicated otherwise.
"We were at least 10 days in advance of development (stages) in May because of rain. Maybe because it's been so wet this summer that the larvae may get fungus" and not survive, he said.
"Maybe it's not warm enough for them to develop ... or it could be cyclical."
Typically, wood nyphms, viceroy, white admirals, painted ladies and skippers are types of butterflies that originate from the local area.
One popular species of butterfly is the monarch, which is migratory in nature and does not often breed in the Truro area.
"There are not a lot of breeding populations of monarchs here," said Ogden. "Monarchs feed on milk weed and there's not a lot of that in the Truro area. Last year, there were quite a few reports of monarch larvae in Annapolis Valley."
Ogden said while it's a shame not to see as many butterflies this year, it also means less food for birds. "Butterfly larvae provides food for birds," he said.
People wanting to learn more about butterflies and other insects can attend an open house Sept. 19 at the Department of Natural Resources in Shubenacadie (just before the wildlife park). Collecting insects, an insect walk and identifying insects will all be a part of the event.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources, Daily News

Geographic location: TRURO, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley Shubenacadie

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