The seeds for the Michigan Butterfly Network (MiBN) were planted in 2009 when KNC staff participated in the National Imperiled Butterfly Network Program. In 2011, the Kalamazoo Nature Center began the development of the Michigan Butterfly Network, which is a collaboration of researchers, citizen scientists, students, land managers, and institutions across our beautiful state. Now, in 2017 we partner with over a dozen organizations and agencies in Michigan with over 50 active butterfly routes, and there are plenty more natural areas where we can monitor our butterflies.
In 2015 a team of Kalamazoo Nature Center staff and volunteers working under the guidance and instruction of Biological Research Director Ashley Wick raised Eyed Brown (Satyrodes eurydice) and Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia) butterflies as surrogate species with the hope of receiving an Endangered Species Permit in 2016 to raise the federally endangered Mitchell’s Satyr (Neonympha mitchellii) butterfly. The Mitchell’s Satyr will be raised for reintroduction to sites where it has recently disappeared.
The team approached Eyed Brown propagation with a meticulous eye for detail and extreme preparation was done before any butterfly entered the greenhouse. Much time was spent configuring the oviposition pots to best enable each Eyed Brown and Appalachian Brown female to lay the maximum number of eggs. With extreme care, Eyed Brown and Appalachian Brown butterflies were collected and transported by the team to the greenhouse from a multitude of locations . Eyed Brown females were observed to oviposit within the rearing tents in as little as one day!
The caterpillars grew rapidly and were eventually moved outside to an enclosed area that will expose them to outdoor conditions but protect them from predation. The caterpillars must overwinter appropriately so that they will emerge successfully this year. Propagation of the Eyed Brown and Appalachian Brown butterfly has proved successful thus far and every achievement with the Eyed Brown and Appalachian Brown moves the greenhouse forward towards the ultimate goal of propagating the endangered Mitchell's Satyr.