About the Authors

The Authors of Nebraska Lepidoptera

Neil DankertSteve SpomerJonathan Nikkila

Neil Dankert

“If you are reading this we share an interest in the butterfly and moth fauna of Nebraska.  Permit me to introduce my self.  My name is Neil Dankert and I live in central Nebraska. 

“My interest in Lepidoptera began back at Kearney State College (now UNK).  As fate would have it my academic advisor was Dr. Harold (Hal) Nagel.  About that time the Nature Conservancy had just purchased the Niobrara Valley Preserve and Dr. Nagel was on an interim “advisory board” tasked with its management until a full time manager was hired.  Dr. Nagel thought it would be a good idea to survey the Preserve for butterfly populations as little was known of the area at that time.  Somehow I fell into that job and have been doing butterfly counts there for over 30 years.  Also about that time The Lepidopterists’ Society was looking for a “state coordinator” for Nebraska.  Not knowing any better I took the job which consists primarily of record keeping and putting together an annual Season Summary highlighting significant finds in the state for the year.  As a result of all this record keeping we now have compiled lists of butterflies found in the state (and in every county) as well as a database of moths reported to occur in Nebraska.  So at every opportunity my wife Jennifer and I criss-cross the state looking to fill in gaps in butterfly distributions. 

“I’ve just recently retired and had always kicked around the idea of finding as many butterfly species as possible in the state in one year (known in birding circles as “the big year”).  So in 2020, I went on this adventure and found 102 species. You can see more details about my year here as well going back to my 2020 blog posts. Since then, I have focused on filling in research gaps around the state and compiling all my data into this resource.”

Steve Spomer

Steve Spomer is a retired research entomologist with the University of Nebraska Entomology department. He maintains a large Lepidoptera and small Coleoptera collection, specializing in tiger beetles, swallowtails, underwings, orangetips, fritillaries, and giant skippers. He is very active in Lepidoptera rearing. He volunteers at the State Museum and still teaches Shotokan karate and Naginata to students at UNL. Steve’s lifetime of collection and observation were invaluable in the development of the Nebraska Lepidoptera Web site.

Jonathan Nikkila

Jonathan Nikkila is not an entomologist, although he considers it among his greatest honors to be able to tag along with and learn from people like Neil and Steve. The closest he ever got to being a real entomologist is when his name was used for an entomologist serial killer character in an episode of The Blacklist. Jonathan contributes primarily on the technical and photographic side of Nebraska Lepidoptera. He is an avid insect enthusiast, including giving talks to kids and adults on the topic. He is on the Stewardship Board of Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, as well as the state Audubon Society board. He is a Nebraska Master Naturalist and he serves on the Nebraska Invasive Species Council. In his free time he enjoys turning his urban landscape in Kearney into a haven for insects. In addition to spending time with his wife and four kids, he coaches track and cross country at Kearney Catholic High School.

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