A Guide to my Pocket Guides

Here's a small sample from the Maritimes guide that illustrates some of the features and how to interpret them.

1 -Dorsal and Ventral views:

Markings on both upper and lower wing surfaces ( shown on the left and right respectively for this sample panel ) can be helpful for identification. In most cases, the view that is most useful for identifying a species is placed on the far left of the panel in question. Note that some butterflies almost never show their upper wing surfaces. In these cases, only the ventral (lower side) view is provided.

2 -English common name, Scientific name (in italics), and French common name

Please note that some species have several common names, and Scientific names can change as taxonomists revise species classifications. The names used in the guide have been chosen to align with provincial checklists ( see references ).

3 -Regional, Size and Status Codes:

The following abbreviations are used for the 4 regions covered by this guide:

NB - New Brunswick

NS - Nova Scotia ( mainland )

CB - Cape Breton Island

PEI - Prince Edward Island

For each species, these regional codes will appear in one of 3 colours indicating how often the species in question has been reported in that region:

GREY = species never reported in the Region ( in 2nd edition, background is white )

GOLD = species rarely or infrequently reported in the Region

GREEN = species frequently reported in the Region

The blue text specifies one of 5 size codes:

  • VS - Very Small
  • S - Small
  • M - Medium
  • L - Large
  • VL - Very Large

The corresponding size ranges are provided in the legend. These indicators are based on measurements of typical specimens, but please note that some species can vary considerably in size.

The red text indicates the species status :

  • C - Common
  • U - Uncommon
  • R - Rare
  • L - Local
  • M - Migrant
  • V - Vagrant
  • N,S,E,W

These codes are explained below:

  • Common - Relatively easy to find in suitable habitat during the flight season indicated
  • Uncommon - Somewhat harder to find, even during the peak of its flight season
  • Rare - Seldom seen, even in ideal habitat during the peak of its flight season
  • Local - the species in question is usually confined to some kind of specialized habitat (eg. bogs, salt-marshes, etc.), or seldom strays far from its larval foodplant. You may never see it unless you visit the right habitat.
  • Migrant - the species in question does not normally overwinter in the province, but flies North from more southerly areas. While species like the Question Mark are regular migrants, others are only reported occasionally ( and are therefore designated as vagrants ). Even regular migrants can vary in abundance from year to year.
  • Vagrant - occasionally strays into the region
  • N,S,E,W - the species in question is more commonly found in the corresponding part of the Region. Note that some species designated with " N " may be found at higher elevations in more southerly locations.

Note that these status codes are intended as rough guides. Certain rare species can appear to be relatively common during a good year if you happen to find yourself in just the right habitat during the peak of their flight season. On the other hand, species that are normally common might be tough to locate during a bad year. The codes are intended to reflect average abundance.

4 -Separate images of Male vs Female

There is little difference in appearance between males and females of some species. In other species, sexual dimorphism can be significant. Where there is a noticeable difference, images of both sexes are provided ( as indicated by the symbols ♂ for male and for female ).

In addition, there are a few species that have seasonal forms. Separate images are provided where appropriate.

5 -Flight Season Chart

These charts give a rough indication of the time of year during which you can expect to find each species. Green indicates the period during which they have been most frequently reported. Yellow indicates the period during which there have been fewer reports. Note that some species have very brief flight periods, which can last only a week or two. The timing of this peak flight period can vary from year to year ( depending on weather conditions ), and from place to place ( typically earlier in more Southerly locations ). Conditions at higher elevations may be similar to those at more Northerly locations. The result is that when combining reports of sightings over many years and across the Maritimes, the peak flight period of a species may appear much longer than it will ever be in any particular place and in any particular season.