Many butterflies like Monarchs and Red Admirals migrate south to escape Minnesota’s frigid winters and return in the spring when the weather becomes gentler. Not so for the Endangered Poweshiek skipperling and Threatened Dakota skipper! These hardcore Minnesotans tough out the cold as half inch long caterpillars on our remnant prairies! The Minnesota Zoo’s Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program has been raising Poweshiek skipperlings and Dakota skippers behind the scenes to bolster their numbers in the wild. For the last 6 months, these caterpillars have been sleeping in a special freezer to mimic the conditions they would face on the Minnesota prairies. By July, these caterpillars will become adult butterflies and either be released back to the wild or stay at the Zoo to breed the next generation of winter hardy caterpillars.
Find out what you can do for butterflies and other insect pollinators by checking out our Plant for Pollinators page!