Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly is rare in Canada

Aldergrove zoo breeds rare butterfly

Endangered butterflies are hatching at Langley’s zoo.

A butterfly once thought to be extinct in Canada is making a comeback, with 88 hatched this spring at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove.

Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly was thought to be gone from Canada, and endangered throughout North America.

A population was found on Denman Island in 2005.

Wildlife Preservation Canada and the B.C. Ministry of the Environment established a breeding program, first with just 18 eggs collected on Denman Island.

The successful program saw almost 300 caterpillars and more than 50 adult butterflies released into the wild in 2015.

Based on this success, the team wanted to scale up the breeding operation to accelerate the species’ recovery. “The volunteers did a heroic job getting it started,” said Randal Heide, executive director of Wildlife Preservation Canada, “but they were also overwhelmed at times. Everyone agreed that to do it right over the long term, we needed a bigger facility and more access to professional staff. We came up with several possible alternatives, but our first call was to the [Greater Vancouver] Zoo, which is already partnering with us in two other endangered species breeding programs. And they didn’t hesitate to say yes.”

“We are always looking for worthwhile projects that we can contribute our services and facility to support the conservation efforts and to create awareness for endangered species,” said Jody Henderson, marketing and communication manager for the zoo.

Earlier this spring, almost 1,300 caterpillars, a fourfold increase over 2015, were released into the carefully enhanced butterfly habitat on Denman Island. Meanwhile, another 100 or so were moved to the zoo to serve as the next generation of breeders. The 88 adults which emerged will enjoy a naturally brief but happy existence, sipping on nectar while doing what adult butterflies are meant to do in specially-designed, predator-proof “love shacks” on the zoo grounds. The result will be several hundreds of eggs to restart the cycle.

“Raising butterflies is more complex than you might think,” said Menita Prasad, animal care manager at the zoo, “It’s as much an exercise in gardening as it is animal husbandry. In many species, the preferred nectar sources for adults are different from the host plants for the caterpillars. So you need access to a safe, fresh supply of different kinds of plants – and lots of them. You’d be amazed how much those tiny caterpillars can eat.”

Each day at 2 p.m. visitors to the zoo will have an opportunity at the Conservation Chat to learn a little bit about the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and to see some stage of their life cycle.

 

Just Posted

Glow festivities in Langley expand to include fall show

Langley nursery transforms greenhouses for a new fall festival of lights, pumpkins, and family fun.

BMX racing takes Langley barista to World Cup in Argentina

Drew Mechielsen encourages other girls to get involved in riding, whether competitive or not.

Apple heritage celebrated with Langley’s heritage apples

An annual party, in which families pay homage to the fruit, is on tap for Saturday at Derby Reach.

Fort Langley to hold all-candidates meeting

A forum in the village includes Township of Langley school trustee, council, and mayoral candidates.

Aldergrove Mall site becomes election issue

Letter from developers supporting current Township council sparks flurry of responses

VIDEO: More cameras, police coming after Marissa Shen killed in Burnaby park

B.C. privacy watchdog worries that the cameras are a ‘slow creep’ to a surveillance state

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

Abbotsford raccoon dies from injuries suffered in a trap

Wildlife protection group offering $1,000 reward for information about incident

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Most Read