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4th Annual Drive-Thru Chicken BBQ

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Science & NatureWhat is That?What Is That … Canadian Beastie? (part 2)

What Is That … Canadian Beastie? (part 2)


We dealt with some ‘Canadian’ birds and mammals in our March 5, 2017 article and today we are turning your attention to some ‘Canadian’ insects and wildflowers.  We start with two insects that are common at White Lake and throughout Canada.

The Canadian tiger swallowtail (Papillo canadensis) is one of the largest butterflies we see at the cottage, their wings ranging from 65 to 80 millimeters across.  They are found in northern deciduous and mixed evergreen-deciduous forests and associated edges.  The caterpillars feed mainly on birch and aspen.  Adults fly from late May to mid-July.  Watching the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail flitting amongst our deck planters and around and about the yard at the cottage brings out the camera and a smile to our faces. Information and photographs of this and several other butterflies were provided in our August 4, 2016 article.

The Canada darner (Aeshna canadensis) is one of the largest dragonflies at the cottage, measuring 64 to 73 millimeters long.  Their habitat includes lakes, beaver ponds, streams and swamps where males can be observed patrolling back and forth along a 10 to 20 meter territory of shoreline around waist height.  Adults fly from late June into early October.  Feeding swarms of males and females are common in clearings near woodlands during the early evening.  In this picture we see a pair mating in our blue spruce near on August 31.

Next we turn to two ‘Canadian’ woodland flowers, the first has white blossoms and the second has intricate red flowers.

The Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) is a perennial herb that can grow to 80 centimeters tall.  The single white flower, which has five petals, can be seen from May to July.  We took this picture last year on June 6th.  This member of the buttercup family can be found in moist forests, swamps and open wetlands.  Members of the genus Anemone contain the toxic compound anemonine which can irritate the skin, so beware.  Some refer to members of this genus as windflowers because their long-stalked flowers appear to dance in the wind.

The wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) also is a member of the buttercup family but it is found in dry and rocky areas.  Glacial erratics dot our cottage yard and this is where we see these beautiful flowers.  Its red and yellow five-petalled blossoms can be observed from May to July.  Its primary pollinators are hummingbirds as well as those butterflies and moths that have tongues long enough to reach the nectar at the base of the long, pointed spurs of each petal.   Bees are generally too large to enter the flowers to collect nectar but some bite small holes through the spurs of the flower to gain access to the nectar.  Further information and photographs of this and other spring wildflowers were included in our February 5, 2017 article.

In this and our March 5, 2017 articles we have provided some information on just nine ‘Canadian’ beasties; three birds, two mammals, two insects and two plants.  There are many more ‘Canadian’ beasties out there, many of which should live around our cottage, but which we have not managed to photograph yet.  Examples of others whose home ranges do not include White Lake are the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis); Canada jay (Perioreus canadensis); Canada worm (Aporrectodea tuberculada); eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis); and, wild lily-of-the-valley (Maiathemum canadensis).  Clearly we have our work, and fun, cut out for ourselves this cottage season to find and photograph more ‘Canadian’ beasties.  Some may recognize the Canada jay, also referred to as the grey jay or the whiskey jack, as the bird recommended recently by the Canadian Geographic Society for designation as the national bird of Canada.  We understand the Canada jay is common in Algonquin Provincial Park, and although not so at White Lake, we shall be watching for it at the cottage this summer, just in case.

Should you want additional information on butterflies, dragonflies or wildflowers we would recommend the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies by Paul A. Opler and Vichai Malikul; Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson; and, The ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario by Timothy Dickinson, Deborah Metsger, Jenny Bull and Richard Dickinson.




From the Archives