Monarchs and Other Butterfly Surprises: Toronto

Much to our surprise, our visit in Toronto, coincided with the Monarch Butterflies’ last sojourn in early September before migrating south to Mexico.

Monarch Butterfly. Toronto Botanical Gardens. Photo by J.Chong 2019.
Red Admiral Butterfly, a different butterfly species. Don River Valley Park, Toronto. Photo by J. Chong 2019.

Monarch Abundance Not Far from Skyscrapers
Quite frankly, I had no idea in advance, the number of monarch butterflies we would see in the city in several parks, with the city traffic beating away only a few blocks off.  It is amazing how important little preserved park areas of flowers, tall grasses and some shade with the right warmth and sun, keeps the butterflies happy there.

Monarch backlit against early fall sky. Toronto Botanical Gardens. Photo by J.Chong 2019.
Sculptural Zimbabwe art. Toronto Botanical Gardens. Photo by J.Chong 2019.
Art sculpture. Part of temporary Zimbabwe art exhibit. Toronto Botanical Gardens. Photo by J.Chong 2019.

Until then, I always found it difficult to photograph butterflies up close because usually I didn’t see many of them in one spot.

Butterflies and Sculptures- Toronto Botanical Gardens
At Toronto Botanical Gardens, a non-profit separate entity which is inside Edwards Gardens, a city of Toronto park, there were rock sculptures from Zimbabwe displayed amongst the botanical garden areas.  It quickly became obvious to me, the sculptures and fluttering butterflies were competing for my attention.

Monarch Butterfly hanging on. Toronto Botanical Gardens. Photo by J.Chong 2019.

I would photo-shoot a sculpture and when walk only a few steps, to swing my camera to several butterflies flitting among flowers.  It was great  –man-made art and natural beauty of butterflies.

Toronto Botanical Gardens, 2019. Photo by J.Chong

Down in the Don River Valley
Then a few days later, in the Evergreen Brickworks, a historic former brick manufacturing site, now enviromental education centre in the

Monarch Butterfy. Evergreen Brickworks Eco-Centre. Don River Valley Park, Toronto. Photo by J.Chong 2019.

Don River Valley, a few more butterflies were lighting here and there among the tall grasses by the pond where a huge turtle was submerged lazyily in the sun-flecked waters. I was there nearly a decade ago and didn’t notice any butterflies at the time.

Turtle opens mouth. Everygreen Brickworks E-Co Centre. Don River Valley Park, Toronto. Photo by J.Chong 2019.
Moarch beauty. Don River Valley Park, Toronto. Photo by J.Chong 2019.

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Info at Humber Butterfly Habitat, a City of Toronto park not far from Lake Ontario along Waterfront bike trail. Toronto 2019. Photo by J.Chong

On the second last day of my trip in Toronto, we biked west along the Waterfront bike trail by Lake Ontario and past the white arches of the Humber bike-pedestrian Bridge. We were hunting for the Butterfly Garden, recently reshaped by the City of Toronto. Again one of these places, that flies into the old stereotype of Toronto as just skyscrapers, people and car-clogged roads.

Monarch butterfly resting. Humber Butterfly Habitat, Toronto 2019. Photo by J.Becker

Unfortunately newly paved walking/bike paths were still being cured and roped off from people.  So we deeked onto a hard packed path to scout out more butterflies which we did capture some on camera  with Jack doing a better job than I.

Waterfront Trail turn-off was just paved and to be opened in several days for easier navigation. Humber Butterfly Habitat, West Toronto 2019. Photo by J.Chong.
Monarch Butterfly. Humber Butterfly Habitat, Waterfront Trail. West Toronto 2019. Photo by J.Chong.
Info on my Red Admiral Butterfly discovery. Humber Butterfly Habitat. West Toronto 2019. Photo by J.Chong.

These butterfly surprises now reveals to me why there are butterfly city murals in the city of Toronto…which will be another story soon.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    Jean, what a fabulous perspective on T.O. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, most non-Torontonians wouldn’t know and probably many Torontonians wouldn’t know abut these local butterfly places. I lived in Toronto for about 20 yrs. and didn’t quite know myself.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I live by the beach in Chicago and in early October a large group of migrating monarchs got caught up in an abrupt temperature drop and high winds. They were stuck all over the beach sort of in shock unable to fly. A lot of neighbors went out and collected them and some folks took them home to get warm. I hope that worked—perhaps some were rehabilitated but many I collected had torn wings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Sounds like those butterflies were injured/distressed. 😦


      1. Yes, it was quite sad, though nice to see all the neighbors come out to help.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lani says:

    So many wonderful photos and captures of the butterflies. It was hard to chose a favorite, but a non-butterfly fav was the pink/purple flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I’m sure Southeast Asia has some colourful, visually arresting butterflies — if one knows where to see them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We are a part of the monarch highway and we love it! They are magical. Your pictures are beautiful. I am glad you got to enjoy their beauty on your trip. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I guess Toronto is also part of the monarch migration highway. In your area, you probably know optimal time of year to see them.

      Wishing you lovely butterflies every year.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marta says:

    Oh my God, I know this post is about butterflies but I have to comment on the turtle’s mouth… it’s kind of scary haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      We were amazed to see this turtle open its mouth so wide. I hadn’t seen a turtle before. These turtles are harmless to humans.


  6. I don’t think of Toronto and butterflies together! Cheers —

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Hey JBW, good to see you! Same here, I had no idea that Toronto is part of the monarchs’ migratory flight path to Mexico.


  7. Sue Slaght says:

    Although we have been to Toronto many times I did not realize that so many butterflies call the city home. I will be looking for them and these areas in a future visit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      We were surprised and delighted to see them also. Good to hear from you, Sue.


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