Butterfly Byway

“The Butterfly Byway reminds us to pay attention to these subtle indicators of environmental health and the importance of pollinators in the big picture.”

—Kat Shiffler, pollinator researcher

In recent years, a global conversation has emerged about plummeting numbers of pollinator species. The regal fritillary in this poster is seen resting on one of it’s favorite food sources, milkweed. It’s habitat is the shrinking tall- and mixed-grass prairies. Managing and preserving the remaining prairies is intregal to this butterfly’s survival.

See butterflies and other pollinators at the below places!


Loup Rivers Scenic Byway

More than a dozen gardens are underway along the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway, a mosaic of visually appealing, biodiverse habitats, carefully-planned to benefit the pollinators that benefit us in so many ways. Individuals and towns are in the process of certifying their gardens with the North American Butterfly Association and the Butterfly Byway will be launched for the public in Spring 2015. Check the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway website for a map and guide or call the Loup Basin Resource Conservation & Development office at (308) 346-3393.

Calamus Outfitters

(308) 346-4697
Burwell Way
Burwell, NE 68823

Calamus Outfitters is a family-owned business providing outdoor recreational activities for diverse kinds of tourists: from hunters, to serious birdwatchers to families who want to float down the river or lounge at the nearby Calamus Reservoir. The operation is located in the north central Nebraska Sandhills, near Burwell, right along the Calamus Reservoir, a prominent regional tourist attraction. They see a massive influx of monarchs when they migrate in the fall, which you can read about on our blog.

Uncle Buck’s Lodge

(308) 547-2210
455 Brewster Ave
Brewster, NE 68821

In 1912, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an Executive Order establishing Fort Niobrara as a “preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” Later that year, the Refuge’s purpose was expanded to include the conservation of bison and elk herds representative of those that once roamed the Great Plains. Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is 19,131 acres in size and features a trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches.  Bison, elk, deer, butterflies, and prairie dogs can be seen along the 3.5 mile wildlife drive throughout the year. The Fort Niobrara NWR’s visitor center features self-guided and ranger-led interpretive services and is visited by approximately 40 million people each year.

Big Blue Ranch

(402)-865-4335
70901 609th Avenue
Burchard, NE 68323

Big Blue Ranch is a place to enjoy the Great Plain’s wildlife and scenery on an operating cattle ranch. Along with tradiational hunting and fishing, ranch activities feature horseback riding, nature photography, and bird watching. It’s an especially great place to see the greater prairie chicken and blue herons. It’s a relaxing get away close to Lincoln, Omaha, and Kansas City. The ranch has been honored with a number of conservation awards including the Rangeland Conservation Award from the Lower Big Blue NRD. The open prairie, woodlands, and lakes are home to many species including coyote, bobcat, red squirrel, fox, and leopard frogs. The ranch’s owners, Billie Kay and Scott Bodie, have continuously worked to improve the sustainability and diversity of their pastures through rotational grazing, inter-seeding with beneficial species, and controlled burning.

Rowe Sanctuary – Audubon

(308) 468-5282
44450 Elm Island Rd
Gibbon, NE 68840

The preserved grasslands at Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary border the Platte River and are home to many pollinator species. Rowe has one of the highest concentrations of regal fritillary butterflies in the country, but visitors may also spot: orange sulfurs, eastern tailed blues, red admirals, and common wood nymphs.

Spring Creek Prairie

(402)-865-4335
70901 609th Avenue
Burchard, NE 68323

Spring creek prairie managers have found 53 species of butterfly and 35 species of dragonfly on the prairie. Butterflys spotted include black swallowtail, little glassywing, harvester, and regal fritillary.

Wachiska Audubon Society

Wachiska has several prairies under their management in southeast Nebraska, and they encourage visitors. They especially suggest Wildcat Prairie, 30.5 acres in Gage County, south-southwest of Virginia, Neb., as a particularly good spot for orange-red milkweed plants, which are especially good at attracting a range of butterflies.

Know of an ecotourist-friendly place in the Great Plains to see pollinators? Email us at cgps@unl.edu