Skip to Main Content
The Butterflies of Canada

The Butterflies of Canada

Ross A. Layberry
Peter W. Hall
J. Donald Lafontaine
Specimen Plates by John T. Fowler
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 354
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Butterflies of Canada
    Book Description:

    The first comprehensive guide to all the butterflies found in Canada. It contains descriptive individual accounts for 300 butterfly species, including descriptions of early stages of species development, subspecies, and a list of key features.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2316-3
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. viii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-3)

    Despite more than two centuries of butterfly study in Canada, no book concentrating in any detail on the butterflies of all this immense country has ever been published.

    There are many good books on the market identifying the butterflies of North America, including Canada. However, these are almost always written from a U.S. perspective, with the northern distribution of many species found in Canada often vague or inaccurate.

    The number of professional and amateur lepidopterists interested in Canadian butterflies has increased dramatically in recent decades. This has resulted in the publication of butterfly books for some provinces, most recently of...

  6. How to Use This Book
    (pp. 4-5)
  7. The History of Butterfly Study in Canada
    (pp. 6-8)

    The first published illustration of a butterfly from Canada appears to have been a drawing of a White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis) (see illustration on p. 7) that decorated a plan of the town of Halifax by Moses Harris published in 1749. Harris, the author of a number of books on British butterflies, spent part of 1749 in Halifax, where he made a collection of some of the local flora and fauna.

    The centuries since have seen a great deal of activity and an increasing number of publications concerning Canadian butterflies, too numerous to be fully documented here. The following are...

  8. Canadian Geography and Butterfly Distribution
    (pp. 9-13)

    Canada, with a land area of 9,922,335 square kilometres (almost 4 million square miles), is the second largest country in the world in area. It extends more than 5000 kilometres east to west from St. John’s in Newfoundland to Victoria on Vancouver Island, and more than 4600 kilometres from the top of Ellesmere Island in the Arctic to Point Pelee in southern Ontario to the south. Most of this vast area, however, is sparsely populated, with the majority of Canada’s 30 million inhabitants living in a narrow zone along Lake Ontario and in the St. Lawrence River Valley, an area...

  9. Butterfly Observation
    (pp. 14-15)

    In recent years there has been an expanding interest in nature watching on the part of many Canadians. Birdwatching has turned into a major recreational activity. Similarly, there is increasing interest in butterfly watching by those who may be interested in watching, photographing, or studying butterflies, but do not wish to undertake the more traditional method of forming a collection.

    Observing butterflies with the naked eye is possible under many circumstances, but it can also be frustrating. It can take incredible patience and luck, particularly for the smaller and duller-coloured species, to even make a positive identification in the field....

  10. Butterfly Gardening
    (pp. 16-17)

    A sunny panorama of colourful flowers animated by a variety of dancing butterflies is an attainable dream for most Canadians. And it doesn’t matter if you live downtown, in the suburbs, or in the country.

    One of the most satisfying ways to watch butterflies is in your own backyard. You have a sense of creating a thing of beauty while helping to conserve a part of our natural heritage. To lift an appropriate phrase from a popular movie,Field of Dreams– ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Even the choice of the movie title would be appropriate for...

  11. Butterfly Conservation
    (pp. 18-19)

    Interest in butterflies used to be almost solely the domain of a relatively few amateur collectors and professional lepidopterists. But in recent years there has arisen a broader concern among the public for the conservation of butterflies and their habitats.

    To date, no butterfly species found in Canada has become extinct, although a subspecies of the Large Marble (Euchloe ausonides), formerly found only on southern Vancouver Island, is now believed to be extinct. There is a growing number of butterflies of limited North American range that are considered endangered in Canada. All of these occupy ecological niches that are restricted...

  12. What Is a Butterfly?
    (pp. 20-20)

    Butterflies, like all plants and animals, are placed in a hierarchical classification that expresses their relationships in increasing levels of resolution. They belong to a group of animals called arthropods (Phylum Arthropoda), which have segmented bodies, jointed legs, and a supporting skeleton derived from the hardened, chitinous skin, termed an exoskeleton. The most common groups of arthropods are insects, spiders, and crabs. Within the arthropods, butterflies belong to a subgroup, the insects (Class Insecta), characterized by a three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen) and three pairs of jointed legs on the thorax. Within the insects, butterflies, together with the moths,...

  13. Lepidoptera Classification
    (pp. 21-21)

    Current classifications (e.g., Kristensen, 1984) divide the order Lepidoptera into four suborders, with the most advanced of these, the suborder Glossata, containing more than 99 per cent of all Lepidoptera. The suborder Glossata is characterized by the presence of a coiled tongue (technically a haustellum) for sucking nectar that is generally associated with butterflies and moths; this group (except for a few very primitive families) also has hollow wing scales, believed to make them more aerodynamic. The other three suborders of Lepidoptera (Zeugloptera, Aglosstata, and Heterobathmiina) have primitive chewing mouthparts, like those of caddisflies, and have wing scales that are...

  14. Butterfly Life History
    (pp. 22-23)

    Butterflies, like other insects, are often referred to as ‘cold-blooded’ animals, but this term is probably better left to malicious criminals than to butterflies. Technically, butterflies are called ‘poikilotherms,’ which refers to animals that do not have an internally controlled body temperature, like mammals and birds, but have a body temperature influenced by the air temperature, radiant heat such as sunlight, and muscular activity.

    In reality, butterflies require a warm thoracic temperature similar to that of mammals to operate effectively. It is common to see moths and other insects in the morning vibrating their wings, seemingly unable to fly, in...

  15. Butterfly Systematics
    (pp. 24-28)

    All plants and animals in the world, whether living or fossil, are classified in a system of scientific names that is accepted universally and is regulated by an international code of nomenclature (the science of naming organisms). The most basic system of classification is called binomial nomenclature, whereby every plant and animal is identified by a unique two-part name consisting of a genus name and a species name. This system, developed by the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus), was first applied to butterflies in 1758. All butterflies, including skippers, were placed by Linnaeus in a single genus (Papilio) and...

  16. Species Accounts

      (pp. 31-76)

      The Hesperiidae are a large family of butterflies with about 3700 species world-wide and about 300 in North America, of which 70 have been recorded in Canada. Most are small or medium sized. They are distinct in appearance from other butterflies, with a thick, heavily muscled thorax and seemingly small short wings. All have six fully functional legs in both sexes. The head is wide and the antennae arise far apart; the antennae are also very distinctive. In Canada, all species have the antennal club curved outward towards the tip, and in most a pointed extension, the apiculus, angling sharply...

    • FAMILY PAPILIONIDAE Parnassians and Swallowtails
      (pp. 77-90)

      The Papilionidae is the smallest family of butterflies. However, because of their large size and great beauty they are probably the best known butterflies to specialists and naturalists alike. The family contains about 570 species worldwide, with about 40 species found in North America and 18 in Canada. Many have tails on the hindwing, which gives them their common name. All have six fully functional legs in the adult stage. Their larvae feed on dicotyledonous plants. In some tribes the larvae feed on poisonous plants; these larvae store the poisonous chemicals until the adult stage, which advertises this distastefulness with...

    • FAMILY PIERIDAE Whites and Sulphurs
      (pp. 91-118)

      This family contains about 1200 species worldwide, with about 65 found in North America and 40 in Canada, although eight of these are non-resident migrants. It contains three subfamilies of which two have Canadian representatives. Most are of medium size, but there are both small and large tropical species, including some of our migrants. The adults of all species have six fully developed and functional legs, and the claws on the feet are strongly forked. Almost all are predominantly white, yellow, or orange in colour. The eggs, which are tall and vase-shaped, are usually laid singly on the foodplants. The...

    • FAMILY LYCAENIDAE Harvesters, Coppers, Hairstreaks, and Blues
      (pp. 119-162)

      This large family has about 4000 species worldwide, with about 150 in North America and 63 in Canada. All are small and most are brightly coloured, often with a metallic sheen. Many have fine hair-like tails on the hindwing. The legs of the adults are unusual in that the male’s forelegs are reduced in size and lack claws, while the female’s are normal in size and structure.

      The larvae are also unusual. They are not elongated and cylindrical, like most lepidopteran larvae. They are often described as slug-like, but even this is not accurate; slugs are more elongate than lycaenid...

    • FAMILY RIODINIDAE Metalmarks
      (pp. 163-163)

      There are about 1400 species of metalmarks, almost all in the American tropics. Of the 25 species that occur in North America only one reaches Canada, in extreme southern Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Most species (but not ours) have spots or lines of scales with a metallic sheen. One additional species, the Swamp Metalmark (Calephelis muticum) occurs into northern Ohio and southern Michigan and might possibly occur in southwestern Ontario; it is a small orange butterfly with a series of black and metallic dashes forming bands on all four wings; it occurs in swamps and wet meadows where the larval...

    • FAMILY NYMPHALIDAE Brush-footed Butterflies
      (pp. 164-238)

      This is the largest family of butterflies, with about 5000 species worldwide. Traditionally the family Nymphalidae as now defined has been treated as a number of families, including the satyrs (Satyridae), monarchs (Danaidae), heliconians (Heliconiidae), and snouts (Libytheidae). More recent concepts of phylogenetic analysis and classification have resulted in these groups being treated as subfamilies of the Nymphalidae. By this revised definition, the Nymphalidae contains about 220 species in North America and 101 in Canada. The forelegs of nymphalids are reduced in size, usually in both sexes (not in Libytheinae females), and covered with long hairs, so as to resemble...

    • Plates
      (pp. None)
  17. Checklist of Canadian Butterflies
    (pp. 239-247)
  18. Dubious Records
    (pp. 248-249)
  19. Collecting Guidelines
    (pp. 250-251)
  20. Appendix: Canadian Locations Mentioned in the Text
    (pp. 252-256)
  21. Glossary
    (pp. 257-258)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-262)
  23. Index to Larval Foodplants
    (pp. 263-268)
  24. Index to Butterflies
    (pp. 269-280)