The prairie has its own suite of grasses and wildflowers that make it a unique ecosystem. With the habitat comes the associated insects, birds, reptiles, and amphibians adapted to this sometimes harsh, sometimes beautiful environment.
Skippers are small, wide-bodied insects with club-like antennae that are considered to be a superfamily of butterflies. The Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe) is listed as threatened in Illinois and occurs only in high-quality prairie remnants. The caterpillars feed on grasses like Little Bluestem. Note all of the information that is stored on the pin with the insect. If curators and other scientists do not know where or when the insect was collected, its value to science is greatly diminished.
The beautiful orange and black Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) is the most beautiful native butterfly most people have never seen. The caterpillars favor violets, especially the native Bird's Foot Violet. They are usually found in prairie remnants with dry, sandy soils. The males and females emerge at slightly different times and only overlap for a short period of their adult lives. The specimen pictured is a male.