You are standing near the location of the original Dugan homestead. The Dugan family were early settlers and farmers. In late May and early June, the sweet smell of lilac bushes permeates the air. Although not a native species in Ontario, this cultivar provides an excellent nectar source for a myriad of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, flies, and other insects in the region. During flowering season, these bushes are alive with insects! The showy Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly is a common visitor to these blooms in late May and June. Its large size, flowing tails, and striped yellow and black pattern make it a favorite of children and adults alike. An interesting moth that is also frequently observed here is the Clear-winged Sphinx Moth, sometimes called a Hummingbird Moth. This insect is a bumble bee mimic with its yellow and black fuzzy body and clear wings. A quick glance and you can easily mistake it for a bumbler. But a closer look will reveal a hovering moth with a long proboscis. Unlike a bumble bee, which needs to land on a flower to gather nectar, sphinx moths unravel a long “tongue”, allowing them to hover in front of the bloom without ever landing.
These lilacs and the edges of the nearby forest are also home to the sapphire Indigo Bunting, often heard singing its “quick-quick, fire-fire, water-water” in doubled phrases. Even a brief encounter with this stunning bird is seldom forgotten!
Watch for the beautiful Eastern Milk Snake, with it’s red on gray blotches, hunting stealthily for mice and voles among the grasses. Butterflies such as Eastern Tailed Blues, Clouded Sulphurs, Common Ringlets, and several species of skipper can be observed dancing among the grasses. Grasslands such as these also provide a home for species at risk such as the Eastern Meadowlark and the Bobolink. As with many grassland birds, these species have declined significantly in the past several decades due to habitat loss. The protected open fields before you provide a refuge for these disappearing birds.