Two of the busiest volunteers at Ruthven Park this summer are Norm and Mary Pomfret. They track butterflies on site on a weekly basis as well as keep an eye on the spread of flora that either help or hurt the butterflies and moths who call Ruthven home, even for only a short time. Their expertise and experience are truly invaluable.
Mary and Norm have been participating in butterfly counts at Ruthven Park since 2005. While speaking with Mary, she indicated that every monitoring season is different and “you never know what you are going to see each week” during the butterfly count. She went on to say that, “Last week, we saw an American Snout (which is a species) from the States.”
She indicated that in comparison with summer 2016, this year has been cooler, with loads of mosquitoes on site and elsewhere. Ticks were abundant in the spring and the Carolinian Trail along the Grand was flooded at times.
This summer, she and Norm have counted more Tiger Swallowtails and Black Swallowtails and they experienced an explosion of European Skippers in July.
While talking with Norm, we learned that black walnut plants are invading the flood plain meadow by the Grand River, the Indiana Meadow, and the south end of the Butterfly Meadow. In their attempt to turn back the meadows to forest they are crowding out milkweed which is crucial to the survival of the monarch butterfly. Although we are losing some of the milkweed the monarch count so far this year is 17 – up from 5 sighted in 2016.
During the summer, the Pomfrets send monitoring reports to Hamilton Naturalist Club and the Toronto Entomologists’ Association. Mary says they love doing the butterfly census throughout the property and Ruthven Park loves their involvement in this important stewardship project.
The best area for butterfly watching at Ruthven Park is the Butterfly Meadow.
We encourage all visitors to add their wildlife observations to the white board located on the exterior of the restroom building at the parking lot. Check out Norm and Mary’s detailed observations while you’re there!
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