102 species – Season Recap

So I guess with snow and temps in the teens that butterfly season is officially over. Despite late season trips to the North Loup, Niobrara and Republican Rivers I’ve been stuck on 102 species since just before Labor Day. So 102 species it is. That exceeds what I expected thanks in large part to my wife Jennifer, Jon Nikkila (along with his sons Bennett and Henry) and Pat and Dianne Miller all of whom aided/abetted my effort. Many eyes proved to be better than my two. I would not have reached 102 species without them. I will take credit for selecting the sites. Some of them I discovered myself but once again many of them were handed down to me from previous collectors. So thanks to them (to numerous to mention) as well.

Over the course of the year I encountered 7 butterflies listed as Tier 1 species by the Nebraska Natural Heritage Program along with another 38 Tier 2 species. Once again, see the June 14 post for a brief summary of the Nebraska Natural Heritage Program. The Tier 1 species are denoted by bold type below while the Tier 2 species are italicized. I also ended up finding four county records in 2020, these being Hobomok Skipper (Lincoln Co), Ruddy Copper (Garden Co), Snout Butterfly (Franklin Co) and Queen (Garden Co). One of the downsides of the “Big Year” was that I did very little exploring – mostly just revisiting sites where I’d found butterflies before. I haven’t yet decided on next year’s project but it will almost certainly involve more exploring.

The list below denotes where I made the first sighting of each of the 102 species in 2020. Many species were sighted multiple times, but are only listed in the locality where I first found them. Thus the locations I visited earlier in the year will have more species found there. So a lower number of species at a location does not necessarily indicate a less desirable habitat but more likely that there were fewer butterfly species “available” to be found.

Box Elder SWMA (April 11, May 3, May 20, July 5) – 12 species: Common Sootywing, Crossline Skipper, Hobomok Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Yucca Giant Skipper, Black Swallowtail, Olympia Marble, Clouded Sulfur, Gray Hairstreak, Silvery Blue, Variegated Fritillary, Gorgone Checkerspot

Elm Creek (home)/Sandy Channel SRA – 10 species: Common Checkered Skipper, Sachem, Cabbage Butterfly, Alfalfa Butterfly, Cloudless Sulfur, Sleepy Orange, Reakirt’s Blue, Question Mark, Painted Lady, Monarch

Monroe Canyon/Pant’s Butte (May 28, June 25, July 26) – 10 species: Afranius Duskywing, Anise Swallowtail, Indra Swallowtail, Checkered White, Arrowhead Blue, Melissa Blue, Icarioides Blue, Anicia Checkerspot, Ochre Ringlet, Varuna Arctic

Four Mile Creek, Kinter’s Ford and Prairie Knoll SWMAs (June 19, July 1) – 10 species: Delaware Skipper, Byssus Skipper, Dun Skipper, Dione Copper, Coral Hairstreak, Banded Hairstreak, Snout, Great Spangled Fritillary, Regal Fritillary, Silvery Checkerspot

Indian Cave State Park – (April 26) 9 species: Silver Spotted Skipper, Roadside Skipper, Zebra Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Henry’s Elfin, Spring Azure, Eastern Tailed Blue, Red Admiral, Goatweed Butterfly

Niobrara Valley Preserve (June 1, July 15, July 26, August 31) – 7 species: Northern Cloudywing, Ottoe Skipper, Tawny-edged Skipper, Northern Broken Dash Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, Little Yellow, Little Wood Satyr

Fontenelle Forest (June 19, July 1) – 6 species: Hickory Hairstreak, Eastern Comma, Red-spotted Purple, Hackberry Butterfly, Tawny Emperor, Northern Pearly Eye

Wildcat Hills (June 24) – 5 species: Long Dash Skipper, Two-tailed Swallowtail, Aphrodite Fritillary, Edward’s Fritillary, Weidemeyer’s Admiral

Lewellen/Oshkosh wetlands (June 13) – 4 species: Bronze Copper, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, Buckeye, Queen

Ash Hollow SHP (June 13, August 22) – 4 species: Western Branded Skipper, Pawnee Skipper, Dainty Sulfur, Marine Blue

Harlan County Reservoir, Cedar Point area (May 5) – 4 species: Wild Indigo Duskywing, Juniper Hairstreak, Pearly Crescent, American Painted Lady

I-80, mm1 exit (June 26) – 3 species: Uncas Skipper, Pahaska Skipper, Western Green Hairstreak

Crescent Lake area (June 13) – 3 species: Ruddy Copper, Mourning Cloak, Viceroy


Victoria Springs area (June 28) – 3 species: Acadian Hairstreak, Eyed Brown, Common Wood Nymph

TNC property (Speidell Tract) nr Alda (June 7) – 2 species: Peck’s Skipper, Summer Azure

Beaver Creek Marsh (July 9) – 2 species: Mulberry Wing Skipper, Broad-winged Skipper

Cedar River headwaters (July 9) – 2 species: Little (American) Copper, Purplish Copper

Macon Lakes WPA (July 4) – 1 species: Arogos Skipper

Road ditch north of Worms (July 3) – 1 species: Silver Bordered Fritillary

Loch Linda SWMA (June7) – 1 species: Least Skipper

Soldier Creek Wilderness (June 25)- 1 species: Taxiles Skipper

Table Rock SWMA (July 1) – 1 species: Grey Comma

Mahoney State Park (Aug 24) – 1 species: Fiery Skipper

3 thoughts on “102 species – Season Recap

  1. Awesome report my friend!! The pics are superb!! Brings back great memories of some truly fun adventures.

  2. I saw two Goatweed butterflies last year for the first time and I thought they looked like flying Doritos chips.

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