Butterfly Rangers’ goal: make Cedarvale-Humewood a butterfly-friendly ecosystem

Butterfly Rangers are the David Suzuki Foundation’s eco-builders

Spring is coming. Time for the Mourning Cloak butterfly to rouse itself from its winter slumbers.

This member of the Lepidoptera family will soon emerge from its den in tree cavities, under loose bark or in unheated buildings with a hearty appetite for tree sap or rotting fruit.But will the Mourning Cloak and other lesser-known butterflies find any?

If the Butterfly Rangers, a group of community volunteers, have anything to do with it, the answer would be an emphatic “Yes!” and throughout the summer as well.

Jode Roberts, senior strategist with the David Suzuki Foundation, which recruits the Butterfly Rangers, calls the Mourning Cloak an unsung hero that lends its wings to the pollination process; it’s also a tasty tidbit for birds.

In short, it’s a vital part of the ecosystem, a “web of dependence,” Roberts calls it, which the Butterfly Rangers want to spin.

Creating an ecosystem in schoolyards and road medians

The task of the Rangers is to turn flower gardens, balconies, schoolyards and road medians into pollinator patches alive with native wildflowers, plants and shrubs that supply food, shelter and a place where local butterflies and bees may reproduce and then go about pollinating throughout the neighbourhood.

The GTA is home to over 340 species of bees and countless butterflies.

A series of these patches makes a corridor or Butterflyway.

Once a troop of Rangers plants at least a dozen patches, the Foundation will recognize their handiwork as a Butterflyway.

The Buttefly Rangers need you!

In 2013, the Foundation created the Homegrown National Park Project. The goal is to build butterfly and bee-friendly Butterflyways in various Canadian cities; Toronto is one of them.

The Foundation has designated Toronto’s Cedarvale-Humewood area a candidate for Butteflyway status.

The Foundation says that “After one or two inspiring days of training, Rangers will go back to their neighbourhoods with a mission: Plant native wildflowers and shrubs in yards, schoolyards, boulevards and parks — and have fun!”

Ranger recruiting is going on now. Training takes place on April 2.

For more information, visit http://butterflyway.davidsuzuki.org/rangers/