Recently Steve Spomer (UNL) came in contact with an amazing moth enthusiast in Cedar County. It turns out that Eric Strehlow had a childhood interest in insects that was rekindled around 15 years ago. Since that time he has been hugely successful in developing and refining bait traps to attract moths in the oak woodlands along the Missouri River. He reports that on occasion he has lured in upward of fifty underwing moths in a night. In the course of running these bait traps he also has attracted some woodland butterfly species. In addition to finding Northern Pearly Eye and Goatweed butterflies he’s also found California Tortoise Shells and Compton’s Tortoise Shells, the latter two being very rare in the state. All of these are Cedar County records.
Compton’s Tortoise Shells are northern in distribution where they inhabit deciduous woodlands. The species is thought to be a stray in Nebraska as there are only five records over the past 120+ years. A truly exceptional find!
California Tortoise Shells are another butterfly that rarely strays into Nebraska, this time from the west where it is also found in/near woodlands. Another fantastic find with Cedar County being one of only four counties where it has been found. It was found in Sioux and Scotts Bluff Counties earlier this summer but Eric found them in his bait traps in Cedar County both this year when he found several and last year (2021) when five showed up in his traps.
While not as rare Northern Pearly Eye and Goatweed butterflies are both good finds (click the links above). Finding Eric was a stroke of luck. He will have an amazing amount of data to share. If you are aware of anyone in your area that may have an interest in butterflies and moths please have them get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.