I posted a photo of a butterfly on Facebook last week without really looking at it and a good birder from Minnesota responded. “Ooh wow! That is a Regal Fritillary!” I looked at it again, yea, he was right. The Regal Fritillary is one of North America’s vanishing butterflies, now only restricted to tall grass prairies and lush meadows on states that border South Dakota, local colonies are common here but in the eastern US now, extremely rare. Today, I saw probably 300.
I sent some emails to birders I knew.in the eastern Dakotas...I asked them if they new of skipper prairies. "Skippers? Like in the insect?' "One had never even heard of it. Here we are people who walk in the prairies every week and we do not even know about our local endangered butterfly.
It is hard to get excited about this bug. It has little PR, and it was hard to find on the internet if any had even been seen in the last decade. With intel scarce we looked up prairies that were being managed for the insect and they are few and far between but one was 15 miles away.
I ended up our near Summit SD, looking in a small piece of virgin, native prairie, there is little untilled or not over grazed even up here on the Coteau. Barry my bider buddy tagged along. We found skippers, some looked suspicious for Dakotas, and another was small and we had no idea what it was. Soon we learned this was not going to be easy. We identified a couple....
It is loaded with life and diversity. As I said, it is also one of the best Dakota skipper prairies left on earth
Here are some of the sights.... enjoy!
ALL I CAN SAY, IS THAT I AM THE LUCKIEST MAN ON EARTH TO BE ABLE TO SEE THIS STUFF!
I do not think, though, I could make a hobby out of butterfly photography.....skippers? Next year, you need to come and try to see this bug, they may be gone soon.