FROGS AND TOADS!
Submit your observations and
receive a free Frog and Toad Calls
of Ontario CD! Every report you
submit helps to protect
Ontario's amphibians 4ce"
and the places they
,Carnivore caterpillar: Harvester butterfly larvae feed on aphids.
Help keep tabs on a unique butterfly
As butterfly season returns to Ontario, forest walkers are urged to keep an eye out
for an extraordinary – and increasingly rare – species: the carnivorous harvester.
While many butterflies have successfully adjusted to human activity, the harvester
remains dependent on its woodland habitat, which development is increasingly diminishing.
Of the more than 700 butterfly species recorded in North America, the harvester caterpillar
is the only one that feasts on insects. The larvae of this small butterfly are active predators,
particularly of woolly aphids.
Along secluded woodland trails, harvesters may be encountered as they seek out damp,
deciduous habitats where woolly aphids and their kin infest alder, beech and other trees
and shrubs. The harvester is uncommonly curious about people. “It often finds you first,”
says Peter Hall, co-author of The ROM Field Guide to Butterflies of Ontario, who says it is
one of his favourite Ontario butterflies. “It often lands on my hand or camera when I try to
Harvesters are often observed darting erratically close to the ground along hiking trails
or roadsides. They are hard to identify in flight, but when they settle they display their
unique wing pattern, with its random circular shapes that make the butterflies seem out
The harvester’s proboscis is very short – perfectly adapted for sopping up moisture
suspended in damp sand or soil. While most butterflies feed on flowers, harvesters prefer
aphid honeydew, sweat, urine and fluids from decomposing scat and carrion. The
butterflies will often circle hikers, sampling the air with keen chemoreceptors and homing
in on perspiration. They also imbibe spilled beer!
Female harvesters lay their eggs near aphid colonies, where the hatchlings eat the aphids.
The waxy white filaments the aphids exude stick to the caterpillars, creating a kind of
camouflage suit. The mature caterpillar secures itself to a branch or other surfaces with a
silken girdle and pupates. The newly formed chrysalis, shaped like a monkey’s head,
mimics a bird dropping, making it virtually invisible to hungry birds.
People can help monitor harvester populations by participating in local butterfly counts
Jay Cossey, nature photojournalist and author of Southern Ontario Butterflies and
their Natural History.
Contact Adopt-A-Pond by email at
email@example.com or by mail at
361A Old Finch Ave.Toronto, ON M1B 5K7.
Whiskeyjack Nature Tours
& DEATH VALLEY
20 April -1 May 2017 (12 days)
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The mighty Colorado River, aided by the
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18 - 28 May, 2017 (11 days)
$2590+GST (dbl occup) from Calgary
The prairie ecosystem of south-west
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wondrously green in the springtime as the
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land is punctuated with wetlands teeming
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BOX 319, SECHELT, BC, VON 3A0
ONNATUREMAGAZINE.COM SPRING 2017 ON NATURE 11