190909 Polinators - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

A few photos from my best Butterfly Hunting outing of the year, from a nice sunny day at the Centre Island pollinator garden and flower beds.Butterflies are the my favourite wildlife: challenging enough to photograph, but not needing any exotic lenses; lots of variety, and active in the middle of the day when the weather's warm. That crepuscular stuff is for the birds.

It's a good year for Monarchs, and most of the ones in the area were the larger generation that will overwinter in Mexico. Beyond that, though, my identification skills get shaky, so some of the ID's that follow are rough guesses, and may be drawing from other photos from the same bursts even if it's not the frame shown here.

These two, however, are not Monarchs. This I am confident of.

They're Viceroys, which are distinguished by the extra horizontal black band across their hindwings. I've been looking for them ever since I learned that Monarchs and these mimics can both be found in Toronto, but these are the first I've ever photographed. Not that I knew that at the time.

Red-Spotted Purple, which might be my favourite butterfly name so far.

Giant Swallowtail, which is the only species in the Niagara butterfly conservatory that includes the Niagara region in its natural range.

Silver-Spotted Skipper. Perhaps. This is one that I'm fairly uncertain of. But then again, a couple of years ago I would have said "moth" and moved on to something more colourful.

A Cabbage White. These are incredibly common butterflies, but they're small and quick and almost never hold still to be photographed. They also look a lot like other little white butterflies, so being able to positively identify one is pretty rare for me.

Red Admirals, including bonus Monarch. These ones look very different when they're folded up.


It's been a tough summer for outdoor weather, so I didn't get out and do this as much as I wanted to.

Practice may make perfect, but these photos are unpracticed, so it's hard to know for sure. My butterfly photos aren't something that will add to art or science, and I'm okay with that. It's a fun reason to get out of the house, and a chance for photography to support another distinct interest for me, and I need more of both in my life.