Despite the watchful gaze of the eye markings on their wings, Mitchell’s satyr butterflies are among America’s most overlooked insects. Famous butterflies like the monarch are widely celebrated and supported around the US; millions of dollars are pledged every year to safeguard the future of this well-known species. However, not as many people know about the desperate plight of the less colourful but equally deserving Mitchell’s satyr.
These butterflies used to be found frequently in five US states, but nowadays they are restricted to just two: Michigan and Indiana. They rely on low-nutrient wetland areas called fens, many of which have been rendered uninhabitable due to urban and agricultural development, dangerous pesticides and growing numbers of invasive species that compete with native animals. Thankfully, groups like the Michigan Nature Association are working to protect fens and preserve the habitat that these butterflies depend on.