Research Partnership Shows High Diversity of Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies
Karen Willard, a Ph.D. student at the University of Arkansas, completed a survey of Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) last summer at our Wilson Springs Preserve and found some exciting species!
Karen documented a total of 22 species of dragonflies and damselflies and 30 species of butterflies, skippers, and moths in her surveys. Some species, like the Dion skipper and the least skipper, are only found in wetlands, adding to the growing list of plants and animals that rely on Wilson Springs as one of their last preserved habitats in this region.
These insects play an important role in our ecosystem. Dragonflies are daytime predators of gnats and mosquitos, giving people a break from these pesky pests. Butterflies and moths are pollinators of native wildflowers and even some fruit and vegetable plants. It is important for us to encourage a diverse and abundant population of these important insects for a healthy ecosystem and for our quality of life.
Karen’s list is a great example of how Wilson Springs and other green space can be used for research by scientists of all ages and experience levels. The land trust uses research like this to help us keep tabs on the natural systems on our properties. Not only does the land trust provide access to the property for students and local experts, but we also host citizen science projects and field trips for the general public to explore our conservation lands and learn more about our local landscapes.
If you are interested in getting involved in research or citizen science projects on our properties, contact us today! Also, check out our upcoming herp-hike in April!