Farmland as Habitat

Feb 03, 2023

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Working on farms in rural Ontario, I’ve had the opportunity to see Common Milkweed and Monarch butterflies at all stages of their lifecycle and growth. Farm pastures (including a number of OFT Farmland Easement protected farms!) provide important habitat and feeding grounds for this remarkable, endangered1 butterfly, as well as unique places for them to form their chrysalises. It’s fairly common to see chrysalises attached to farm equipment or tucked into corners, such as this one I spotted in the summer of 2021 on a moveable chicken greenhouse.

Last summer, one corner of the pig barn where I was working became a popular gathering place for them. It started with a single chrysalis hanging on the gate with its beautiful characteristic gold band. Thankfully, the gate in the pig barn wasn’t yet needed, but with farrowing season and autumn weather approaching, I hoped the soon-to-be butterfly would transform quickly. I returned to the barn later in the day to find another caterpillar setting up shop. They were soon joined by a third.

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