Brochures highlight local butterflies and dragonflies

If you’ve ever wondered about that butterfly flitting around your flowers, or the dragonfly hovering over a nearby pond, you’ll likely find the answers in a pair of guides written for the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society.

The brochures were compiled by local naturalists Tony Greenfield and Rand Rudland, with financial support from the Sunshine Coast Community Forest.

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“This is part of the Community Forest’s biodiversity education program,” Greenfield said who sits on both the Community Forest and society boards.

Rudland, vice president of the Natural History Society said producing the guides also fits well with the work of the society, which has already produced a birding checklist with support from the Community Forest. “It’s part of our interest in educating the public.”

Greenfield and Rudland used information from their own field experience, previously published guidebooks, scientific studies and Rudland’s collection of photographs.

Greenfield, known to Coast Reporter readers for his regular birding column, said he started to take an interest in butterflies about five years ago, and Rudland said he’s been photographing them for about that long too.

“Butterflies of the Sunshine Coast” lists nearly 40 varieties of the insect known to inhabit the area, which may seen like a lot to the layperson, but Greenfield said butterflies are comparatively rare here because they don’t tend to favour forest environments.

“There are 40 species on the Sunshine Coast, but you go to the Okanagan and there’s 140 species,” he said. “They like warm, sunny open areas.”

Both men said of the species listed in the guide there’s only one they’ve never personally seen in the field – the Johnson’s hairstreak. “It’s rare on the Sunshine Coast, and on top of that it spends a lot of its time flying around the treetops,” Greenfield said.

The guides are designed to be useful to anyone interested in learning more about the insects, and the butterfly guide includes information on where many of the varieties are usually found.

Greenfield and Rudland said the butterfly guide would appeal to gardeners especially. “A lot of people plant [gardens] for butterflies, but have no idea what they’re attracting,” Rudland said.

The butterfly guide has been out for about a month now, and the guide to dragonflies and damselflies, “Odonates of the Sunshine Coast,” was being distributed this week.

As well as pictures and tips for identifying varieties, the odonates guide also includes primers on basic anatomy and other characteristics.

The guides are available at Talewind Books in Sechelt, EarthFair in Madeira Park and at the Iris Griffith Centre. Proceeds from the $6 price go to support the Natural History Society and the Sargeant Bay Society’s educational projects.

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