David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project seeks volunteers to support important migration routes in East Toronto

A monarch butterfly is seen in this file photo on a Mexican sunflower in Rosetta McClain Gardens in southwest Scarborough. Photo by Ann Brokelman.


East Toronto and the Beach area are important migratory routes for local butterflies in summer.

In recent years, through the effort of volunteers from environmental non-profit organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation, governments and communities have learned the importance of pollinators. Programs such as the Butterflyway Project are dedicated to creating pollinator habitats throughout Canada.

These habitats support butterfly migration routes and are crucial to pollinator survival.

“During certain times of the year, people may notice that there’s a lot of insects and butterflies flying along the Beach shoreline to the east end of Toronto,” said Jode Roberts of the David Suzuki Foundation, the organizer of the Butterflyway Project.

According to Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk (BSAR), there are at least six types of butterflies that are endangered in the province including the Mottled Duskywing and Karner Blue.

“People should care because insects are the foundation of our ecosystem and in fact, 45 per cent of insects like bees and butterflies are endangered,” according to Roberts.

The David Suzuki Foundation is an environmental charity that aims to promote awareness and education on the environment by hosting projects and recruiting volunteers to get people active and engaged with environmental issues.

Since the launch of the Butterflyway Project in 2017, more than 2,000 volunteers, also known as Butterflyway Rangers, have been recruited in hundreds of communities across Canada and more than 89,000 native wildflowers have been planted.

Roberts said the Butterflyway project was first started in the Beach area with a group of local volunteers. The program trains Butterfly Rangers across Canada by sharing information on butterflies and practices on how to plant pollinator habitats.

Rangers then reach out to their neighbours or institutions in their communities to share their knowledge and concerns on pollinator habitat. Eventually, Rangers lead communities to improve the number of pollinator habitats.

As long as Rangers get permission from the property owner, anywhere planted with native wildflowers can be a pollinator habitat.

“Parks, schools, yards and gardens. It depends on individual Rangers, but essentially anywhere with soil and grass is suitable,” said Roberts.

Anyone can become a Butterfly Ranger.

“During the pandemic, our project has expanded to over 300 communities in Canada and last year over 1,000 rangers helped to create habitats for pollinators,” said Roberts.

For more information on the Butterflyway Project, please go to https://davidsuzuki.org/take-action/act-locally/butterflyway/

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