I have been a gardener for most of my life (since I was 13, so gardening for 30 yrs), and the past ten years have been spent specifically gardening for butterflies and then learning all about all of the different species and their fascinating life cycles.
This year I am taking this interest into more organized formats to spread awareness and contribute to their survival. With some other people in Oak Park, we are creating a Wild Ones chapter in the hope of encouraging people to incorporate more natural landscaping which is friendlier to butterflies, birds, and other creatures.
I also decided to participate in a different way in the study of butterflies and to volunteer for the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network (IBMN). The IBMN’s purpose is to collect data about butterflies through citizen scientists. Tracking the numbers of butterflies gives useful information about a particular habitat.
Monitors are supposed to visit their assigned site 6-8 times from Memorial Day through August 8; 4 of those visits need to happen before July 20 and data needs to be entered online. Monitors may net the butterflies to obtain specific identification, but I do not feel quite comfortable enough to do that yet. Many of the butterflies we are looking for are ones that I am familiar with and can identify while in flight. Now, some of those similar-looking skippers and small hairstreaks who might move off too fast are another story! Luckily, even unidentified skippers or hairstreaks are still useful data.
This is my first year, and I am so happy to do it at Wolf Road Prairie. It is a special place, and one I look forward to visiting each time. I love seeing the changing landscape and hearing and seeing beautiful birds too. I haven’t seen a Common Yellowt-throat in forever and have never seen a Woodcock but saw one up close when we startled each other. Thanks to all of you that have worked so hard to preserve such a magnificent place.