|PRAIRIE BUTTERFLY FLOWER VISITS: PROPORTIONAL OR PREFERENTIAL?|
|Theodore Burk1,2, Abby Robinson1,2. 1Biology Department, Creighton University, Omaha, NE, United States; 2Environmental Science Program, Creighton University, Omaha, NE, United States
Data were collected on butterfly nectar plant visits at four eastern Nebraska tallgrass prairie sites from early June through mid October each year from 2002 to 2017. Over 17,000 flower visits by over 50 species of butterflies to over 80 species of flowers were recorded. Nectar plant visits by butterfly species were highly non-random. Information is presented on the most frequent flower-visiting butterflies and the most-frequently visited flower species, with particular emphasis on two butterflies of special conservation concern, the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) and the Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia). To determine whether butterflies visited flower species simply in proportion to their abundance, or showed preferences in flower species visited, flower abundance surveys were conducted in 2016 & 2017 and correlations between flower abundance and butterfly visits were calculated. Results indicated that while butterfly visits by the butterfly community as a whole correlated with flower species abundance, individual butterfly species exhibited preferential patterns of flower visits.