Knowledge of the Butterfly

There is another aspect of life on the land; while working in forest or garden a man has time for meditation and indeed his very act is devotion. He becomes in tune with the Infinite. ~Richard St. Barbe Baker


“Entomology extends the limits of being in new directions, so that I walk in nature with a sense of greater space and freedom. It suggests, besides, that the universe is not rough-hewn, but perfect in its details. Nature will bear the closest inspection; she invites us to lay our eye level with the smallest leaf and take an insect view of its plane.”—Henry David Thoreau.

In popular esteem the butterflies among the insects are what the birds are among the higher animals—the most attractive and beautiful members of the great group to which they belong. Entomology happens to be the branch of zoology focussing on the study of insects. Butterflies are primarily day fliers (diurnal) and remarkable for the delicacy and beauty of their membranous wings, covered with myriads of tiny scales that overlap one another like the shingles on a house and show an infinite variety of hue through the coloring of the scales and their arrangement upon the translucent membrane running between the wing veins. It is this characteristic structure of the wings that gives to the great order of butterflies and moths its name “Lepidoptera”, meaning scale-winged.

The Entomological Society of Saskatchewan takes part in the North American Butterfly Count July 21. The society members will also give talks, presentations and displays.

Take the time to learn how to establish a pollinator native plant ribbon or butterfly garden. The North American Butterfly Association will provide Certification for your butterfly garden.

Ronald R. Hooper states that 160 species of butterflies are known in Saskatchewan, in families known as skippers, swallowtails, whites, sulphurs, marbles, hairstreaks, harvester, metalmarks, brushfooted butterflies, meadow browns, and coppers (see bibliography for scientific nomenclature). Every fall the Monarchs journey from Canada to California or Mexico, and they return to Canada in the spring. During this migration phone Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) to report any Monarch Butterfly sightings.  When you are out and about this season, keep an ear out, do tell if there is the slightest murmuration when the butterflies migrate past.

And, whereas, the Monarch is known to migrate, this is not the case with all butterflies. Most of the Swallowtails pass the winter as chrysalids while practically all the Angle-wings pass the winter as adults. The Graylings and the Fritillaries are typical examples of butterflies which hibernate as newly hatched larvae. Many species simply find such shelter as they may at or near the soil surface, others may hibernate under boards, stones, or tufts of grass. The Swallowtails, nearly all of which hibernate in the chrysalis stage. Other examples are the various Whites, the Orange-tips, and isolated species like the Wanderer, and the Spring Azure and the American Copper. Now, an adult butterfly seems a fragile creature to endure the long cold months of winter, however many of our most beautiful species habitually hibernate as adults, finding shelter in such situations as hollow trees, the crevices in rocks, the openings beneath loose bark or even the outer bark on the under side of a large branch.

The butterflies furnish the best known examples of insect transformations. The change from the egg to the caterpillar or larva, from the caterpillar to the pupa or chrysalis, and from the chrysalis to the butterfly or imago is doubtless the most generally known fact concerning the life histories of insects. If you do not know the name of the lepidoptera larva, butterfly or moth that you have found, try to take a photograph of it. Identify your sighting at this web site which features an image gallery. If you have a photo of a caterpillar send in information about the plant that the caterpillar was found upon to Butterflies and Moths of North America and help to grow the database.

The Entomological Society of Canada hosts a Common Names database for insects and other related arthropods.

Learn about Butterflies Day Tuesday March 14.

1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something.: ***

“The study of butterflies,—creatures selected as the types of airiness and frivolity,—instead of being despised, will some day be valued as one of the most important branches of biological science.”—Bates, Naturalist on the Amazons.


Aquatex Consulting ~ A guide to aquatic insects of Saskatchewan.

Butterfly Count 2

Canadian Geography and Butterfly Distribution. Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility. CBIF

Forte, Theresa M. Butterfly Gardens can be Elegant. Landscape Saskatchewan.

Froehlich, Shirley. Milkweeds and Monarchs. Prairie Originals

Holland, William Jacob. The butterfly book A popular guide to a knowledge of the Butterflies of North America. 1898. Garden City New York Doubleday, Page and Company.

  • The Butterflies of North America North of Mexico.
    Family I. Nymphalidae, the Brush-footed Butterflies
  • Subfamily Euplaeinae, the Milkweed Butterflies
  • Subfamily Ithomiinae, the Long-winged Butterflies
  • Subfamily Heliconiinae, the Heliconians
  • Subfamily Nymphalinae, the Nymphs
  • Subfamily Satyrinae, the Satyrs, Meadow-browns, and Arctics
  • Subfamily Libytheinae, the Snout-butterflies
  • Family II. Lemoniidae
  • Subfamily Erycininae, the Metal-marks
  • Family III. Lycaenidae
  • Subfamily Lycaeninae, the Hair-streaks, the Blues, and the Coppers
  • Family IV. Papilionidae, the Swallowtails and Allies
  • Subfamily Pierinae, the Whites, the Sulphurs, the Orange-tips
  • Subfamily Papilioninae, the Parnassians and Swallowtails
  • Family V. Hesperiidae, the Skippers
  • Subfamily Pyrrhopyginae
  • Subfamily Hesperiinae, the Hesperids
  • Subfamily Pamphilinae
  • Subfamily Megathyminae, genus Megathymus

Hooper, Ronald R. Butterflies and Moths. Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina. 2006

Hot, dry weather yields blizzard of butterflies. Bugs go through 3-5 generations in 1 summer. CBC News. Aug 11, 2016

Identify a Butterfly, Moth or Caterpillar. Butterflies and moths of North America.

It is prime butterfly time in Saskatchewan. CBC News. August 2, 2016

Monarch Butterflies start their migration in Saskatchewan. Weyburn this week. August 12, 2016

Monarch Butterfly Cycle. Homeschool Travelers. World Wide Traveling.

Monarchs and milkweed. Nature Conservancy of Canada NCC

Places to find milkweed in Sask. to conserve Monarch butterflies CBC News. April 2, 2016

Walk through the Prairie Getting to know Canada.

“What hand would crush the silken-wingèd fly,
The youngest of inconstant April’s minions,
Because it cannot climb the purest sky,
Where the swan sings,
amid the sun’s dominions?

Not thine.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley.

There is another aspect of life on the land; while working in forest or garden a man has time for meditation and indeed his very act is devotion. He becomes in tune with the Infinite. The miracle of growth and the seasons’ changes induce a sense of wonderment and call forth worship from his inner being and in this sense WORK becomes WORSHIP.~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.

For more information:

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
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If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
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“Winged flowers, or flying gems.”