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8 July 2018 Dry Island Butterfly Count

Charles Bird, Compiler

Location: Dry Island Buffalo Jump ProvinciaL Park, Red Deer River Valley, east of Huxley.

This was the 19th annual Butterfly Count in the Park. As previously, it was cosponsored by the Alberta Lepidopterist’s Guild and the Buffalo Lake Nature Club. We gathered at the Upper Viewpoint/Parking Lot at 10 AM. As folks arrived, a registration list and waiver forms were filled in with the help of Tyler Nelson, Alison Dent and Tim Schowalter, and a checklist showing the results of all previous counts was handed out. After an introduction by Brian Orr from Parks, and various introductions, we drove down to the picnic area where folks scattered and got familiar with the area and its butterflies and skippers. We gathered for lunch at 12. This was followed by talks by Charley Bird, John Acorn, Felix Sperling, David Lawrie, Tim Schowalter and Dianne Pachal. We then we had our traditional group photograph.  Afterwards, we divided up into four groups and headed out to continue our count. John Acorn’s group headed up the hill to the northwest, Tim Schowalter’s group went along the lower badlands to the northeast then looped back along the edge of the trees above the river, David Lawrie’s group went all the way to the “Dry Island”, and Charley Bird’s group headed west along the lower badlands and came back along the river. We gathered around 3.30 to add our lists together and we then headed to our respective homes. The forecast was good and we had light overcast intermixed with clear skies and the temperature only reached 28. Mosquitoes were seldom a problem. Kilometers on foot estimated to be around 10.

The participants (49) were Benny Acorn, John Acorn, Elizabeth Bagdan, Kurt Bagdan, Gerry Bennett (Parks), Ryan Bergen (Parks), Charles Bird, Amanda Brown, Robert Brown, Shannon Brown, Wayne Brown, Bruce Christensen, Helen Christensen, Alison Dent, Marc De Cnodder, Simone De Cnodder, Les Dobos, Destinee Doherty, Sarah Doherty, Savannah Doherty,  Sarah Elmeligi,  Savannah Foged, Rebecca Hohnsbein, Wayne Kinsella, Grace Kwong, Meagan Lacoste (Parks), David Lawrie, Karin Lindquist, Linda Lindquist, Zachary MacDonald, Tyler Nelson, Chris Olsen, Sharon Olsen, Brian Orr (Parks), Dianne Pachal (Waterton Park), Karina Paloyan, Chantal Payne, Marie Payne, Thomasina Payne, Bob Parsons, Kayleen Sandrowski, Tim Schowalter, Dave Tibbie, Brodie Vale, Brooklyn Vale, Sheila Vale, Tracey Vale, Sydney Vandermeer and Oksana Vernygore.
SPECIES OBSERVED – Thirty-one were seen. The names and order follow that of G.R. Pohl et al., 2010, An Annotated List of the Lepidoptera of Alberta, Canada (ZooKeys 38, 1-549, Special Issue).
Epargyreus clarus (Silverspotted Skipper) - 1
Pyrgus communis (Checkered Skipper) - 2
Oarisma garita (Garita Skipper) - 9
Thymelicus lineola (European Skipper) – 30
Polites themisticles (Tawny-edged Skipper) - 4
Polites mystic (Long Dash Skipper) - 1
Anatrytone logan (Delaware Skipper) - 1
Euphyes vestris (Dun Skipper) – 3
Papilio machaon dodi (Dod's Old World Swallowtail) – 44. Most were hill-topping on Dry Island.
Papilio canadensis (Canadian Tiger Swallowtail) – 1
Colias alexandra Christina (Christina Sulphur) - 1
Colias philodice (Clouded Sulphur) – 37
Pieris rapae (Cabbage Butterfly) – 5
Pontia (Pieris) occidentalis – 13
Satyrium (Harkenclenus) titus ( Coral Hairstreak) - 7
Satyrium liparops (Striped Hairstreak) – 8
Cupido (Everes) amyntula (Western Tailed Blue) - 2
Plebejus melissa (Melissa Blue) – 8
Aricia (Plebejus) saepiolus (Greenish Blue) - 17
Aricia shasta (Shasta Blue) – 2
Limenitis arthemis rubrofasciata (White Admiral) – 19
Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary) – 1
Boloria bellona (Meadow Fritillary) – 5
Speyeria cybele pseudocarpenteri (Great-spangled Fritillary) – 10
Speyeria hesperis (Northwestern Fritillary) – 55
Speyeria callippe (Callipe Fritillary) - 8
Speyeria aphrodite or hesperis – 24
Polygonia progne (Grey Comma) – 2
Phyciodes cocyta (Northern Pearl Crescent) - 16
Phyciodes batesii (Tawny Crescent) – 1
Cercyonis pegala (Meadow Brown) - 28
Coenonympha tullia inornata (Common Ringlet) – 50

John Acorn kept track of the Odonates.  Three dragonflies were observed again: Aeschna interrupta (Variable Darner), Ophiogomphus severus (Pale Snaketail) and Sympetrum internum (Cherry-faced Meadowhawk). 

Two damselflies were seen: Enallagma  annexum (Northern Bluet) and Lestes disjunctus (Northern Spreadwing), the latter for the first time.


General Comments: We had an excellent turnout with 49 observers (39 last year and 47 the year before that). Thirty-one species of skippers and butterflies and 413 individuals were seen (last year we had 37 species and 285 individuals). We had no new records this year. As this was a Provincial Park, we practiced catch, identify and release. David Lawrie provided an observation cage into which we put single specimens of various species in for the group to have a close look at. Again, the scenery was spectacular, wildflowers were in abundance and many photographs were taken.


They were Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia polyacantha) ,  Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa),  Northern Bedstraw (Galium boreale),  Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), Wild Blue Flax (Linum lewisii),  Yellow Flax (Linum rigidum),  Umbrella-plant (Eriogonum umbellatum),  Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis),  Fleabane (Erigeron pumilus),  White Sweet Clover (Mellilotus alba),  Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalis),  Lilac-flowered Beard-tongue (Pentstemon gracilis),  Scarlet Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea),  Scarlet Butterfly-weed (Gaura coccinea) - very appropriate for a Butterfly count!,  Buckbrush (Symphoricarpos occidentalis),  Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) and  Western Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum).


Five hundred and eighty-nine species of moths and 25 butterflies and skippers are reported from Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, exclusive of the Tolman Bridge area, by Bird (2011). If all species in the undetermined categories were named, the actual total would be around 650. The vast majority of these were not reported from Area 5 by Bowman (1951). Many are known, however, from Tolman Bridge about 15 km downstream (see Bird 2006). It is felt that the overall total can be brought to over 700 by further study.

The large number of species found in the Park to date indicates that it may be more biodiverse than any other area in Alberta and this provides strong support for the setting aside of the area as a Provincial Park where it receives special protection from agricultural and other commercial activities.

Bird, C.D.   2011.   Lepidoptera of Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, 1999-2011.

          Report prepared for Alberta Parks and Protected Areas. 52 pp.

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