Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekend Wild Walk - Butterflies

Butterflies are the subject of this Saturday's Weekend Wild Walk. And do we have them in abundance!

Undoubtedly the most conspicuous butterfly out there now -- and often sought-after by visitors from elsewhere -- is the regal fritillary. According to Butterflies of North America by Brock and Kaufman, "This well-named regal creature is one of North America's vanishing butterflies," having disappeared from much of their former range, particularly east of the Mississippi River. Fortunately for them -- and for us -- regal fritillaries are doing quite well in Nebraska.

While regals are quite obvious, closer looks reveal plenty of smaller butterflies too. I had to wait for these fulvia (?) checkerspots to calm down, but they finally stood still long enough for me to take their picture. [Butterfly experts can correct me on the ID if I'm wrong.]

So what about that most famous of butterflies, the monarch? Sadly, I've seen only one on the prairie all year, despite plenty of milkweed (their larval plant). Clearly, they are having trouble here as well as on their wintering grounds in Mexico.

The walk begins at the nature center at 9:30 Saturday morning and wraps up by 11. We encourage participants to bring cameras and binoculars (though these are not required). Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Hope to see you there!

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