Butterfly Gardens

Thinking about creating a butterfly garden? Here’s a handy graphic to help you identify plants and their lepidoptera obligates, meaning plants that butterfly species require. Feel free to match the two species that are native to your region.


Sometimes one small act changes ecosystems drastically

If people think ecology is simple, this story would explain otherwise. Beside this study, Yellowstone has been a laboratory for many wildlife biologists as they sort out which species to introduce, conserve or eliminate. One example is the reintroduction of the gray wolf whose unintentional effects rippled throughout the park. Biologists were startled to find that wolves scared the elks up into the hills, thus freeing aspen trees to mature free from the elks’ gnawing teeth. Allowed to grow tall, they provide habitat for songbirds, materials for beavers to build their dams, and aquatic organisms to find a home in the newly created ponds. All because of the wolf. This is why ecology is rarely simple.

Nighthawks and Parking Lots

Nighthawks are a generalist species, meaning they have tried many habitats throughout their evolution. One innovation when grasslands started to disappear was the rooftop habitat. But as flat, gravel rooftops start to dwindle because new roofing materials without camouflage for nighthawk eggs are on the rise, nighthawks are finding new urban habitats, like parking lots. In my study, when nighthawks lost their rooftop habitat atop the Yankton Mall in South Dakota, nearby warehouse workers noticed a nest in the parking lot. To help them out, they placed orange construction cones around the nest and hoped for the best.