Look for the skippers of the Prairie

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If you walk past a sedge wetland or wet prairie in the Oak Openings Region this summer, look low among the plants for quick flashes of orange Often elusive, tiny, orange and brown, wetland skipper butterflies can be seen darting and dancing among the vegetation.

These animals are important indicators of higher quality wetland ecosystems, especially within Michigan and Ohio, and are not considered common species. They thrive in sites with abundant sedges, the important host plants for their caterpillars.

No bigger than a thumbnail, the Duke’s skipper pictured here was flying in a sedge wetland at Secor Metropark. Other wetland skippers such as Dion and broad-winged, also fly in tandem with Duke’s skippers and all prefer to sip nectar from swamp milkweed, dogbane and buttonbush.

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Photo by Lauryn Watkoske