Nachusa Grasslands is "a flutter" with 47 native butterfly species: swallowtails, whites, sulphurs, yellows, blues, hairstreaks, brush-footed, and skippers.
Particularly exciting is the preserve's population of regal fritillaries. In Illinois, the regal fritillary is a threatened species due mainly to the loss of prairie habitat. The regal caterpillar's diet of ONLY prairie violets also complicates their survival. However, Nachusa Grasslands has become an ideal home for this beautiful butterfly since the remnant lands contain many violets and the restoration prairie plantings are also seeded with several violet species.
Butterfly monitoring by volunteer citizen scientists will help Nachusa collect data on the butterfly populations. The Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network states that the "goal is to provide data collected with a standardized protocol that allows land managers to evaluate long-term trends in a changing landscape."
Volunteers attend a training workshop before the season begins in order to learn the common species and monitoring protocols. Each monitor walks an assigned route at least six times during the summer. Usually a route can be traversed within an hour. The monitor records the species seen along their route and then reports the data.
Some Nachusa Grasslands butterfly species:
Blues and Hairstreaks