Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat
The Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat is located in Humber Bay Park. It is a large, open expanse of nature that has just the right balance of flora and fauna to attract countless butterflies as they progress along their migration route.
Surrounding Humber Bay Park are towering condominiums and living here means you’re right at the junction where city life meets nature, which for most people is the perfect combination.
How to get to Humber Bay?
Humber Bay Park is located in the Etobicoke neighborhood of Toronto, right on the shores of Lake Ontario. The entire park, which is divided into an East and West section, juts out into the lake, providing many square acres of pristine parkland. Much attention has been made in the last decades to ensure the park is a biodiverse area, home to native plants and animals.
Once you reach Humber Bay Park, you will want to veer off and enter Humber Bay Park East. From there, follow the Waterfront Trail. There should be plenty of signage and after walking a short distance, you will come across an open space where the butterflies congregate. There should be a large rock at the entrance to the park, clearly marked Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat.
Best time to visit Humber Bay?
While you can visit the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat year-round, if you want to ensure you see butterflies, there are certain times of the year that are the best. We recommend visiting between April and September to see these colorful creatures flitting through the air. In addition to certain months, weather also plays a role in seeing butterflies. The insects love warm sunny days with a bit of a breeze. If its is too hot or too cold, they will take refuge and you won’t see as many of them.
Cost of admission
Unlike so many things in life, the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat is completely free. This makes it the perfect way to spend the afternoon, either by yourself, with your partner, or even with the whole family while also being aware of COVID safety measures and social distancing.
One of the reasons the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat has thrived in recent years is because of the loving care by a special group of people. A community stewardship program is in existence and helps maintain the areas. Their role includes learning about native species of plants, understanding trail design, and volunteering to maintain parks around the Toronto area. One of the parks they oversee is the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat. Admission is open to the public so, after you visit this tranquil place and want to do more to maintain its serenity, you can always look into becoming part of the stewardship program.
Types of butterflies
The most common butterfly to frequent the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat is the monarch. You can distinguish monarchs by their coloring. They have bright orange wings that are bordered by a black and white dot pattern. Their wings are quite large.
In addition to monarch butterflies, you might be able to spot viceroys. Interestingly, it is hard to tell the two species apart. Viceroy butterflies are a bit smaller than monarchs. They also have an extra black stripe along their hind wings.
Luckily, the park has anticipated this confusion. There are handy butterfly guidebooks located in the park. The laminated pages mean you can check on your observations no matter what the weather.
Other animals and plants to see
The entire Humber Bay Park was built to offer a refuge for a number of species. The park uses native trees, shrubs, and grasses, to attract animals that have always lived in the area.
One part of the park is made of short prairie grass. The area includes low-growing trees and is home to many birds and insects.
Another part of the park is awash in a meadow of wildflowers. While it may be tempting to pick them, please don’t as the seeds allow new generations of flowers to grow, while also providing sustenance to animals.
Finally, there is the Home Garden. This is where the butterflies are attracted to and is the perfect area to stroll around or sit and watch nature in all its fine glory.
While different animals flock to Humber Bay Park at different times of the year, no matter when you go, there is something exciting to see. Ducks make the area their home year-round and salmon spawn in the fall. There is no shortage of birds and if you get lucky, you might even spot a beaver or racoon.
Interesting facts about butterflies
If a visit to the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat has you itching to know more about this amazing animal, here are some fun facts.
- Monarch butterflies migrate over 2000 miles south, reaching either the southern United States or even Mexico.
- It takes monarch butterflies 2 months to reach their migratory destination. They travel between 50 and 100 miles per day.
- Once they reach the United States or Mexico, monarch butterflies will find the exact same forest, or even tree, that their ancestors lived in.
- You will only ever see female monarchs in Canada. Once they mate in the south, male monarchs die and it is the female butterflies that make the journey north.
- Viceroy butterflies eat the traditional nectar but they also eat animal dung, fungus, and even carrion.
- Unlike monarch butterflies, viceroy butterflies don’t migrate. They complete their entire life cycle in one area.
- Viceroy butterflies flap more than monarch butterflies, which glide more.
How to create your own butterfly garden
If you live in the Toronto area, you can actually create your own butterfly habitat. The key is creating a garden they are drawn to. This includes using plants such as echinacea, asters, and lavender.
Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on milkweed, which is a flowering plant, while viceroy butterflies lay their eggs on willow trees and poplar trees. Including these flowers and trees will encourage butterflies to stay around in your garden.
Finally, while it may be tempting to clean up your garden in the fall, it’s recommended to create a winter habitat for butterflies and other insects with dead leaves. It may look a bit messy to you, but to butterflies, it is a warm habitat that will protect them from the cold.