2021 Niobrara Valley Preserve Butterfly Count

On July 1 eight intrepid observers took advantage of perfect weather to participate in the Niobrara Valley Preserve’s annual butterfly count. They found 254 total butterflies belonging to 36 species. The Great Spangled Fritillary was the most common butterfly with 65 tallied. Four Nebraska Natural Heritage Program Tier 1 (globally most at risk of extinction) species were found (denoted by bold and italics typeface) as well as an additional eight Tier 2 (rare or imperiled in Nebraska) species (denoted by bold typeface). The count broke down as follows: Silver Spotted Skippers – 15, Checkered Skipper – 2, Common Sootywing – 1, Least Skipper – 2, Tawny Edged Skipper – 6, Crossline Skipper – 6, Long Dash Skipper– 12, Northern Broken Dash – 7, Little Glassywing – 5, Delaware Skipper – 4, Two Spotted Skipper – 1, Dun Skipper – 3, Giant Swallowtail – 3, Cabbage White – 5, Orange Sulphur – 4, Coral Hairstreak – 2, Acadica Hairstreak – 2, Banded Hairstreak – 6, Gray Hairstreak – 1, Eastern Tailed Blue – 3, Variegated Fritillary – 1, Great Spangled Fritillary – 65, Regal Fritillary – 14, Gorgone Checkerspot – 1, Question Mark – 1, Eastern Comma – 3, Mourning Cloak – 3, Red Admiral – 6, Buckeye – 1, Red Spotted Purple – 2, Viceroy – 9, Northern Pearly Eye – 1, Eyed Brown – 2, Little Wood Satyr – 32, Wood Nymph – 24, and Monarch – 3.

Little Glassywing – photo by J Nikkila
Female Two Spotted Skipper – photo by J Nikkila
Count participants search a wet meadow adjacent to the Niobrara River

Thanks to this years crew (my wife Jen, Jon Nikkila, Jen Corman, Teresa Bammerlin, Chris Helzer, and the two Conservancy fellows Sarah Lueder and Kate Nootenboom) the 36 species found was the best species total since 1999. This years count is barely over and I’m already looking forward to next years!

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