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Butterfly Meadows

TRCA tractor preparing soil for native
wildflower seeding by FRW.

Some beautiful native wildflower communities are becoming scarce because of habitat loss, pollution, exclusion of regular ground fires and fierce competition from invasive non-native and native species.

By preparing, planting and seeding new native wildflower meadows in protected Rouge Park areas, FRW is increasing natural landscape beauty and providing niches for a great diversity of meadow wildflowers, butterflies, birds, insects, and animals.

In 2002 and 2003, FRW planted more than 36,000 native wildflowers of more than 40 native species. In the fall of 2003, FRW collected more than 50 kilograms of native wildflower and grass seed for dispersal on prepared sites in 2004.

Within this Chrysalis a Monarch
caterpillar will miraculously
transform into a butterfly.

Lady bugs help to control aphids
on tender new plant shoots.

Colourful Garden spiders spin
beautiful webs and catch
insect pests.

The following wildflowers and grasses have done quite well on upland Rouge plantings:

  • black-eyed susan;
  • sweet oxe eye;
  • bergamot;
  • butterfly weed;
  • prairie smoke;
  • smooth rose;
  • New England aster;
  • big blue stem.

The following wildflowers and grasses have done quite well in moist area Rouge plantings:

  • great blue lobelia;
  • cardinal flower;
  • joe-pye weed;
  • boneset;
  • turtle head;
  • blue iris.

Many of the wildflowers FRW plants provide food or habitat for rare and interesting creatures. For example:

  • The Turtlehead wildflower, is a must-have food for the early larval stage of the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly. The Rouge still has some turtlehead wildflowers and an associated population of Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies. FRW has planted several hundred turtlehead wildflowers around our wetland ponds and Baltimore Checkerspots are already utilizing this new habitat.
  • The Monarch butterfly's larva feeds exclusively on a few species of milkweed plants and the adult butterfly likes the nectar of many flowers such as Milkweed, butterflyweed, New England aster, Joe-pye weed and sweet oxe eye. FRW plants common and butterfly milkweed for Monarch larvae and other flowers that produce nectar for adult butterflies.

FRW also plants some very rare species such as gingseng, dense blazing star and blue lupine. The blue lupine is the beautiful host plant for the Karner blue butterfly which was extirpated from Ontario just a few years ago and is now an endangered species in the United States.

Feed-back from Tom Mason, Toronto Zoo, Curator of Invertebrates

“FRW restoration efforts are significantly expanding and enhancing habitat opportunities for many local butterflies, moths and insects, including regionally rare species .....”