Naturalists enjoy butterfly expedition

Sixteen naturalists set off to find and identify butterflies.

Pink-edged Sulphur butterfly at a mustard plant.

Pink-edged Sulphur butterfly at a mustard plant.

Vermilion Forks Field Naturalists were privileged to have South Okanagan lepidopterist Dennis St. John with us on our Hembre Mtn. field-trip Saturday, July 12, as we set off to find and identify butterflies. It turned out to be one of the hottest days this summer, and although a total of 16 people started trudging up the trail, only six actually reached the “top of the world!” Nevertheless, butterflies were in abundance from the beginning of our trek, and even those members who turned back early had several opportunities to learn from our instructor. Dennis provided extra nets so we could try our hand at gentle and brief capturing procedures. Butterfly guide books helped with identification, as did excellent shots from some of the expert photographers in our club. We saw 26 different species of butterflies in the 3 ½ hours we were out, including a beautiful male Pink-edged Sulphur. Other highlights were a Western Tiger Swallowtail, Large Marble, Anna’s Blue, Lorquin’s Admiral, Mariposa Copper, as well as Northern Checkerspots and Field Crescents. Those of us who reached our destination plateau not only marveled at the incredible views of the valley and beyond, but were blessed with the shade of large conifers and a refreshing breeze that made our lunch break quite comfortable. Dennis appreciates that this area boasts an exceptional number of butterflies, and he is keen to return for another expedition.

Our next field trip will be August 9, when Charlotte Sellers will lead us on an easy hike off China Creek Road, climbing to a few high points to enjoy the views. Confirm with Char at 295-6079 and meet at Billy’s at 9 a.m.