Approximately 60 people from Fort McCoy and the general public attended a pair of Butterfly Field Days on July 26-27 at the installation to learn about the unique habitat Fort McCoy has for rare species of butterflies to flourish.
Tim Wilder, longtime post wildlife and endangered species biologist and chief of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch, said this was “an opportunity for people to learn much more about the rare butterfly management that is occurring on the installation.”
Each field day included a presentation at the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport terminal followed by a bus tour to butterfly habitat. Attendees got to see some rare butterflies, such as the Karner blue, regal fritillary, and the ottoe skipper, along with many more common species, such as a monarch butterfly.
This was the first time field days like this were held. Wilder said it helped raise more awareness about endangered butterfly species and their habitat.
“The populations of many pollinators, including butterflies, are declining throughout their ranges,” Wilder said. “Fort McCoy is home to one of the largest remaining populations of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly.”
Fort McCoy is also home to three species of butterflies that are currently undergoing status reviews by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if they require protection under the Endangered Species Act. The species are the monarch, frosted elfin, and regal fritillary butterflies. Fort McCoy also has the only remaining population of ottoe skipper butterflies in Wisconsin.