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Volunteers Invited To Count Butterflies In Tallgrass Prairie

Kenneth Spencer

The Tallgrass Prairie national preserve tomorrow will hold their 4th annual Marvin Schwilling Memorial Butterfly Count to assess the health of the prairie.

Volunteers are invited to help count butterflies alongside experts in the tall grasses of the Flint Hills.

The yearly count is named after the late biologist and naturalist Marvin Schwilling, who worked for Kansas Wildlife and Parks for 37 years.

By counting the butterflies, experts are able to assess the health of the butterfly population and the Tallgrass prairie.

Natural Resource Program Manager Kristen Hase says that in past years, around 40 species and over 1,000 butterflies have been identified.

She says along with other information they use the butterfly count to assess the effectiveness of their prairie management strategy.

“Are we doing the right thing when it comes to fire and grazing to promote kind of species diversity,” says Hase.

“Or you know improve the number of individuals and the number of species that are out there.”

The count will start Saturday morning at 8:30AM. Volunteers should meet inside the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve’s 3-story stone barn in Strong City.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located two miles north of Strong City on Kansas State Highway 177 (the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway).

For more information or to make group reservations, visit the preserve’s website at nps.gov/tapr email tapr_interpretation@nps.gov , or call the preserve at (620) 273-8494 or 6034.