28 September 2012

Butterflies in the Bog

Photo Credit: Lynette Schimming
First of all, thanks to everyone who has written this week in congratulations and thanks for the new Ramsar designation.  I think we can all agree that it's a huge step forward for everyone: in Delta, in British Columbia, in Canada, and in the world.   And it wouldn't have happened without a lot of people, in and out of government, working together to achieve this goal.  Finally, the world recognizes what David Bellamy knew 17 years ago - Burns Bog is of international importance!

One of the people that wrote to us was noted biologist Crispin Guppy, who drew our attention to the remarkable butterflies that reside in Burns Bog.   According to Crispin, "the Mariposa Coppers (lycaena mariposa (= epidemia mariposa) in Burns Bog have a unique wing pattern compared to the rest of BC."  This something I've never had the opportunity to notice, but I will certainly look out for it on the next Bog tour!  "The differences can be summarized as the undersides of the wings being much paler and more lightly marked than other BC populations."  Whether or not the difference is unique to Burns Bog is still unknown; butterflies, despite their beauty, don't draw a lot of attention in British Columbia. 

Guppy was one of the first scientists to bring up the conservation issues facing butterflies in BC, in a 1994 report to the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada.  According to environmental scientists, several butterfly species in south Vancouver Island are currently at risk, due to the overuse of the pesticide "BTk" (bacillius thuringiensis kurstaki) to kill gypsy moths.  This pesticide indiscriminately kills any and all butterfly and moth pupae. And unfortunately, the Species at Risk Act offers little protection for endangered butterflies; according to UBC, they are protected only within parkland.  That means that the unique butterflies of British Columbia are, for the most part, on their own.

Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2012. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [www.efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [September 27, 2012]

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