We quickly spotted many different species, including this Variagated Fritillary above. In some places along the trails it was difficult to focus on individual butterflies before another species would fly by!
I was a bit worried that my mid June visit to the preserve would be a bit early for catching a glimpe of one of these butterflies, as they more typically don't emerge until a little later in June and into July. However, males, like the one pictured above do typically emerge a little before females which are a little larger and have white instead of orange spots on the back of their forewings.
The Regal Fritillary like its tallgrass prairie home has disappeared from much of its original range. Once occuring extensively in the east, they cling on east of the Mississippi only in a few scattered remnant populations, where a small amount of tallgrass has been spared the plow. Here in the Great Plains, where a bit more of the tallgrass has been preserved they still remain in seemingly stable populations in areas like the National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Hopefully such places will continue to be protected so we can continue to catch a glimpse of this truly Regal creature of the prairie.