Windsor

Why people have been counting butterflies on Pelee Island for two decades

People will search through Pelee Island to count butterflies today.

The annual count was pushed back a day because of the weather

Bob Bowles says he there should be plenty of monarchs to see at the butterfly count on Pelee Island. (Mike Evans/CBC)

Bob Bowles has been searching for butterflies on Pelee Island at the start of August for a solid chunk of his life and he is asking for the public's help.

"I would say it's more exciting than relaxing, you never know what you're going to see," said Bowles. 

Bowles said this year he expects to find large numbers of some species - from rare butterflies that frequent Canada's most southern island to the crowd favourite: monarchs.

"It's been an excellent year for monarch butterflies," said Bowles, who said the count has been going for 21 years. 

Rare finds expected

With all those counts Bowles has amassed enough data to find some trends.

"We have a great database built up and we can tell how things are changing and some of that habitat," said Bowles. 

That includes visits from some of rare butterflies like the juniper hairstreak, sometimes known as the olive hairstreak, he said. 

Aerial photo of Pelee Island. (Photo courtesy Ontario-Canada-Travel)

"For years we've looked for that, some years we might get one or two," said Bowles. 

"We had up to 20 (Wednesday) so that's amazing."

Unfavourable weather pushes back count

Bowles had hoped to start the count August 1, as he's done each year, but the weather wasn't the type to bring out butterflies.

"The thing is you never know what the weather is going to be like," said Bowles, who blamed strong winds and cooler temperatures for the reschedule. 

A team did conduct a search on Wednesday, spotting about 20 species.

He hopes the number of species spotted on Thursday is around 30.

Bowles is asking people to meet at the Heritage Centre on Pelee Island at 9 a.m.

He hopes to have 10 teams of two to four search through the island after dividing it into four quarters

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