After wet summer, ‘savour the joy’ of increased numbers of monarch butterflies in Toronto – Toronto

One of Canada’s most cherished species seems to be making a comeback in Toronto gardens — at least for a few more days.

Monarch butterfly watchers in Canada and in the United States say it’s been a good year for the iconic orange-and-black pollinators, who leave for winter habitats in Mexico from Canada and the U.S. in September, arriving at their destination about a month and a half later. 

Jode Roberts, who manages the Butterflyway Project for the David Suzuki Foundation, told CBC Toronto it’s been a “crazy great summer” for monarchs, thanks to a successful migration back from Mexico and the average temperatures and wet weather Toronto experienced over the summer. 

Jode Roberts poses with pollinator-friendly wildflowers near Woodbine Beach, planted to help create a butterfly-friendly habitat in Toronto. (Kate McGillivray/CBC)

“When there’s lots of rain, that means there’s lots of nectar” for the monarchs to chow down on, he said.

Roberts also credits a David Suzuki project introduced a few years ago to encourage Torontonians to plant monarch-friendly plants like milkweed, saying that “what we are seeing this summer is, I hope, the result of that work by citizens.”

Monarchs are currently considered a species of “special concern” by Ontario, but Roberts said his organization is pushing for better protections.

Boost for wasps and bees

The mild weather, and wildflowers that have flourished thanks to plenty of water, have helped other species as well — some welcome, some less so.

“Wild bees and butterflies all benefit,” said Roberts, noting that there are more than a hundred species of butterfly in the city, including the painted lady, an orange and black butterfly often confused with the monarch.

Many Torontonians have taken to social media to describe another slightly less welcome visitor: wasps.

Scott MacIvor, an assistant professor of biological science at the University of Toronto in Scarborough who studies wasps and bees in the city, makes a case for why that’s good news as well.

Wasps, bees, and other species of insects also reap the benefits of a wet, lush season. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

“Wasps play really essential roles as predators and pest-controlling agents in our environment,” he said.  “For every super-abundant spider or aphid … there’s a wasp for that.”

Though the monarchs are now beginning their migration “with a little bit of wind and good luck,” as Roberts puts it, other insects will likely stick…

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