Apr 06 2014

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The Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly Maze

Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly Maze!

Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly Maze!

Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly

          The Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly is one of the world’s rarest butterflies.  Named after professor J. N. Mitchell from the University of Michigan, by G. H. French, in 1889.  This butterfly depends on swampy wetlands with just the right PH level for the plants it relies on to grow.  These wetlands, called fens, were never very numerous and with the advent of modern civilization are under constant threat of development.  In addition to the direct destruction of the ecosystems the butterfly needs for survival, it faces indirect threats.  In some instances the water flow is altered enough that the fen loses it’s delicate PH balance, eliminating the sedges the butterfly depends on for survival.  In other cases, there may be a decrease in the native foliage the butterfly eats as they are replaced by non-native species.

          The Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly starts life in the summer when a female butterfly lays eggs onto a leaf or other bit of swampy matter.  Those eggs hatch, and the emerging caterpillar goes through 3 molts before the winter sets in.  At that time, this amazing creature goes into a hibernation period under the snow.  When spring returns, the caterpillar goes through two more molts to finally emerge as a Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly.  In this, it’s final form it has just 3 short weeks to find a mate, reproduce and lay eggs before it dies.  It is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about an inch.  It lives its entire life in only a small portion of the fen where it was born.

          The butterfly is found in the lower fifty miles or so of Michigan, along the Michigan border from the Toledo Ohio area west to lake Michigan.  In this area there are only 13 fens that meet the butterfly’s needs.  It is also found in a couple of localities in Indiana.  At one time, this butterfly lived in parts of Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Ohio; and also locations no longer suitable in Michigan and Indiana.  Recent populations discovered in Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama await DNA testing to see if they are truly Mitchell’s Satyr Butterflies, or another sub-species that looks very much like the Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly.

Original artwork is copyright 2014 by Rob Hughes.  Drawn with india ink on 9″ x 12″ Bristol white vellum surface paper.  Made in Michigan.  Built to last.

This design is available as a greeting card. 

Download a PDF of the Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly Maze here!

Here is the solution to the Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly maze.

Resources (link takes you to the referenced article):

Biokids University of Michigan

United States Fish and Wildlife Services

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Michigan Department of Natural Resources


University of Michigan Animal Diversity for Kids

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Xerces Society

Encyclopedia of Life 

Michigan State University

Pizza, Beer and Science

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