Thursday, September 3, 2009


Yesterday we headed out to Markham Prairie to the south of Chicago to check it out for a potential butterfly restoration site.

Vincent, our Director of Arthropod Conservation, and his team have been working really hard all summer raising literally thousands of imperilled butterflies for release onto suitable habitats in an attempt to restore populations to appropriate sites.

When they do releases they take between one and two hundred butterflies to an area that has the required host plants to feed future caterpillars and also good nectar sources to sustain future generations of butterflies.

The butterflies we want to restore to this site are Silver-bordered Fritillaries Boloria selene So named because they have little silver coloured spots on the underside of the hindwing.

Markham Prairie is an ideal spot for them. It is one of the very few remnants of original prairie remaining in Illinois and it has a massive variety of native prairie plant species including members of the violet family which is the host plant for the Silver-bordered Fritillary.

One of the rarest plants in this area is the Ear-leaved False Foxglove Tomanthera auriculata. We had missed them flowering so they were very innocuous. But it was good to see such a rare plant thriving.

There were also a healthy array of invertebrates

And even an occasional vertebrate too

The area covers about one hundred and fourty acres

We were all very happy to think that future generations of this charming little butterfly is going to be given the opportunity to repopulate this wonderful natural area.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention, we actually managed to have a day out in the field without any rain - for the first time this year!!

Photo Credits - CJT


Louise said...

LOVE. THIS. POST! I never knew things like this were done with butterflies. What a wonderful project. And all the animal life you saw and photographed--wonderful. (My favorite is the snake.) Glad you escaped the rain!

Becky said...

Wow what a great project and wonderful photos (as always). I loved seeing all those bugs. I used to have stick bugs... a lot of them. But the last one died without leaving any eggs behind.

Those wasps look frighteningly dangerous, but the little green snake is adorable.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh! That prairie is so beautiful! A true Eden! I hope we neer lose places like housing or road development. What a tragedy to lose so many unique and lovely species.
Thank you for working so hard with your team to help the wildlife survive and thrive. :)

ps. Your photos were beautiful!

Kathiesbirds said...

Celeste, alright, I found Doug, now which one are you?

I can't believe how much rain you have had! You need to visit AZ! The prairie looks so inviting and I am so happy for the butterflys. I LOVE the litte green snake!

RJ Flamingo said...

What a beautiful butterfly. We have a variety of fritillary here, called the Gulf Fritillary. I hope to get some shots of those, soon. :-) You all do such great work!

Rambling Woods said...

What a wonderful program to be involved with Celeste...And not getting rained on was a rare event this summer. This reminds me that I have to do a post on our snake visitor...and hubby didn't run away screaming..lOL.....Michelle