Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association, NABA Chapter

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Field Trips 

A Harvester butterfly, found during a SWBA field trip to Jackson County. The caterpillars of this butterfly are strictly carnivorous! Photograph by Ann Thering (Copyright 2008)

2017 field trips or counts may be canceled in the case of inclement or even cool cloudy weather because butterflies can be hard to find in such conditions. Please call the field trip leader to make sure trip will meet if weather is questionable. All trips are free.

2017 Field Trips 

Has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 25th at 10:30 a.m.

  The best place in the state to look for early butterflies in May is Jackson County.  Butterfly expert Mike Reese will lead us in finding and observing many scarce and unusual species, many that only fly in May!  We expect to find all 5 of the state's Elfins, including the very rare (and State Threatened) Frosted Elfin.  We should find Olympia Marble, Gorgone Checkerspot, Cobweb Skipper, Dreamy and Sleepy Duskywings, etc.  Over the past 9 years we have averaged 21 species.  Bring binoculars if you have them, close-focusing ones work best. (A few extra pairs of binoculars are available.)  Also, bring a bag lunch and water. A hat, long pants and long sleeves are recommended.

Meet in Jackson Co. at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of West Bauer Road and Brockway Road. We will butterfly until 3:00 p.m. DIRECTIONS: From the intersection of I-94 and Hwy 54 in Black River Falls, go east on Hwy 54 approximately 3.8 miles to Brockway Road. Turn right on West Bauer Road and drive 3.8 miles to the intersection with North Brockway Road. (This area is about 2 1/4 hours northwest of Madison via I-94.) 

Participants must PRE-REGISTER for this trip by either calling Mike at (920) 647-0196, or include your phone number in an email to  (so we can contact you in case of postponement or cancellation due to weather).

(and optional hike up OBSERVATORY HILL SNA)
Sunday, June 4, 2017
10:00 a.m. to Noon

  The Prairie Sands chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE), in Marquette County, will hold two field trips.  In the morning we will tour Page Creek Marsh State Natural Area, which is a large wetland surrounded by diverse uplands that provide habitat for a wide variety of plants, birds and insects. The creek winds through farmland enhanced by remnants of native prairie and oak savanna.  Oak uplands and prairies have been restored.  Page Creek, because of its 652-acre size and habitat diversity, has been a reliable butterfly site.

Co-leader Dan Sonnenberg (SWBA) will help identify the first summer fliers.  Hiking is on old logging roads and intermittent, unmarked trails, and through tall-grass fields.  Ticks are abundant, so wear long pants that can be tucked into socks.  Wear sturdy hiking shoes; a hat is recommended. Bring water and binoculars (the closer they can focus the better).  We have a couple of extra binoculars. No facilities on site.  TPE co-leaders are Laurel Bennett (Page Creek stewardship coordinator), and David Hamel.  You are invited to bring a lunch to eat with the group at nearby John Muir Memorial Park where there are tables and restrooms.  (From intersection of K and D take 10th Road south, then go south on Cty F for 1 mile.)  

Email or Call Dan ( or (608) 225-0451) to PRE-REGISTER or if you have a question about the trip or if weather forecast is questionable.  (The trip is canceled if it rains.)

DIRECTIONS FROM MADISON: take Interstate Highway I-39 north, past Portage, into Marquette County. Take Exit# 104 and follow County D east for 3.45 miles (going through Packwaukee, where D turns right and goes across the lake). Turn left (north) onto County K and go 0.86 mile to a gated entrance on the right (east) side of K. Park here.

OPTIONAL:  If you can, join the hike up 300 foot high Observatory Hill State Natural Area in the afternoon (1:30 p.m.). It is in the process of extensive DNR oak savanna restoration.   Charlie Church (TPE) will lead this moderately challenging trip up Observatory Hill, so be prepared for some steep portions and rock outcroppings.  (Meet at the DNR parking lot on the south side of the hill along Gillette Ave.)  Map:


Saturday, June 17
10:00 a.m.– Noon.

   Pleasant Valley Conservancy is a beautiful state natural area situated in the Driftless Area, with steep goat prairies, oak savanna, and a large, high quality marsh. This time of year we hope to see Baltimore Checkerspots and perhaps some wetland skippers. Other possible butterfly species include swallowtails, Silvery Checkerspot, fritillaries, and blues. All of these butterflies will have many wonderful native plants to nectar on this time of year. Led by Dr. Douglas Buege and Tom and Kathy Brock.  Long pants, a hat, water, and hiking shoes are recommended. Bring binoculars—the closer they focus, the better! (We have a few extra binoculars.) If you would like, bring along a bag lunch for after the field trip; dessert will be provided!  (This is a joint trip of SWBA with Madison Audubon and The Prairie Enthusiasts.)  Contact leaders only if you have a question about the trip: Douglas at (608) 441-9833 or Tom at (608) 238-5050 or

Meet at 10:00 a.m.

DIRECTIONS:  (4554 Pleasant Valley Road, Black Earth)  Heading south into downtown Black Earth follow County Hwy F as it turns right (west).  After a mile or so, F turns left (south). Continue on F for another 3 3/4 miles turning left onto Pleasant Valley Road.  Drive 3/4 mile (past the buildings on the right) to the state natural area sign. Park off the road.


Saturday, June 24
10:00 a.m. to Noon

   On this morning walk we’ll observe and learn about butterflies, those small but exquisitely beautiful creatures that dance about our ankles in summer.  Karl and Dorothy Legler and Jan Axelson will lead this 2 hour walk at Cherokee Marsh on the northeast side of Madison.  We will observe a variety of butterflies as they take nectar from wildflowers, and learn about their identification, behavior, and lifestyle. Bring binoculars if you have them — close-focusing ones work best. We have a few extra pairs of binoculars. It’s best to wear long pants and a hat for protection from the sun.  This is a joint trip of the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association, with Madison Audubon Society, and Friends of Cherokee Marsh.

Meet at 10:00 a.m. 

DIRECTIONS: On the north side of Madison take Northport Drive (Highway 113) then turn north on Sherman Ave.  Meet at the Cherokee Marsh parking lot at the north end of Sherman Ave.  (6098 N Sherman Ave, Madison, WI.) Call Karl at (608) 643-4926 or email only if you have a question about the trip.


Saturday, July 1, 2017
9:00 a.m. – noon

  This is a new one-time field trip. Rocky Run Fishery Area and Oak Savanna State Natural Area, in Columbia County, is an extensive 737 acre area in Columbia County. It was designated in 1988, and the following year leaders, Karl and Dorothy Legler began an annual NABA butterfly survey here which has been conducted for 28 years.  The area has Oak forest and savanna, trout stream, shrub wetland, sedge meadow, grassland, remnant and restored prairie and a conifer plantation.  We will stay mostly on trails and expect to find American Coppers, Banded Hairstreaks, Delaware Skippers, Mulberry Wing, and many others. Long pants, a hat, water, and hiking shoes are recommended. Bring binoculars—the closer they focus, the better! (We have a few extra binoculars.) Call Karl at (608) 643-4926 only if you have a question about the trip.

Meet at 9:00 a.m.

DIRECTIONS: Taking Hwy 51 north from Madison, continue straight north on Hwy 22.  Go 1.3 miles past the intersection of Hwy 22 with County B. The parking lot is on the left.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  Celebrate July 4th at this beautiful private preserve that consists of remnant and restored wetlands, remnant bluff prairie, restored tall grass prairie, and dry hilly oak-hickory woodland. In past years, we have observed an impressive variety of dragonflies and butterflies as we explored the different habitats.  Bring binoculars; close-focusing ones work best.  (We will have a few extra binoculars.)  Bring your own lunch and beverages to enjoy when we finish the trip at noon, by driving up to the bluff-top picnic shelter. Leaders are Tod Highsmith, Karl and Dorothy Legler. This is a joint trip of the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association (SWBA) and The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE).

Meet at 9:30 a.m. 

DIRECTIONS: Travel west from Cross Plains on Hwy 14. Just outside town take County KP to the right (north), go about 1.3 miles and turn left at the Swamp Lovers sign.  Call Karl Legler at (608) 643-4926 or cell (608) 228-0743 only if you have a question about the trip or if the weather is questionable.


Saturday, July 8, 2017
9:00 a.m. – noon

  This is our 27th annual butterfly count!  Co-sponsors are SWBA and UW Arboretum.  Each year butterfly enthusiasts all over North America participate in more than 450 censuses of butterfly species. Each count is similar to a Christmas Bird Count. These censuses help to monitor the health of our butterfly populations and the detailed results are published in an annual report for North America. If you can identify butterflies, or can help spot butterflies, or just want to see and learn about butterflies, join us on this 3 hour butterfly walk. Bring binoculars, the closer they focus the better. (We have a few extra binoculars.)   Dress for protection from the heat and sun, a hat is recommended. The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) requires a $3.00 fee from each participant to help cover publishing costs.

Meet at 9:00 a.m. at the parking lot for the Grady Tract in the UW Arboretum. We will observe until about noon.

DIRECTIONS: leaders Karl and Dorothy Legler at (608) 643-4926 or . Heading west on the Beltline (Hwy 12), take the Seminole Hwy exit (258A) and then turn left (south) on Seminole Hwy driving across the bridge over the Beltline, turning immediately into the parking lot for the Grady Tract. If you have a question about the butterfly count, contact leaders Karl and Dorothy Legler at (608) 643-4926 or



Saturday, July 15, 2017
10:00 a.m. – noon

LEADERS: Dr. Douglas Buege (SWBA) and Rich Henderson (TPE)

 We will visit The Prairie Enthusiasts’ Schurch-Thomson Prairie, and the adjacent privately owned Underwood Prairie. The latter is closed to the public, so this is a great opportunity to see it up close. These and adjacent properties form a complex of remnant prairie and CRP grasslands that are rich with grassland birds and other prairie animals. Summer flowers will be in bloom, and we hope to see the rare Regal Fritillary and many other butterflies. Be prepared for a long hike and bring binoculars for butterfly viewing (the closer they can focus the better). We have a few extra binoculars. Wear long pants and a hat for protection from the sun. Wear sturdy walking shoes and bring water. This is a joint trip of The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE), and the Southern Wis. Butterfly Association (SWBA). Contact Rich at only if you have a question about the trip.

Meet at 10:00 a.m.

DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 151 at Blue Mounds take F south (note: F makes a right turn). After 5 miles turn right onto Reilly Road. Go to the end and park by the barn.


Saturday, July 29, 2017
10:00 a.m. - noon

LEADERS: Dan Sonnenberg (SWBA) and Rich Henderson (TPE)

 We will explore this diverse area. Kalscheur is owned by The Prairie Enthusiasts. It encompasses 19 acres and has a wide diversity of habitats with a cold water stream, wet meadow and wet prairie to dry prairie, oak savanna and oak woodland. It has 243 native plant species. We expect to find Swallowtails, Fritillaries and many other species of butterfly. Bring binoculars for butterfly viewing (the closer they can focus the better). We have a few extra binoculars. Wear long pants and a hat for protection from the sun. Wear sturdy walking shoes and bring water. This is a joint trip of the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association (SWBA) and The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE). Contact Rich at only if you have a question about the trip.

Meet at 10:00 a.m.

DIRECTIONS: in Iowa County, on County K, 2 miles south of the village of Hollandale.


Saturday, August 5, 2017
10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.  

Due to the closing of Hay Road we will meet at the second spot we normally go to. See directions below.

  In some years this can be the best butterfly trip of the year! This trip will highlight several areas in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, including Avoca Prairie and Savanna State Natural Area in Iowa County, and Blue River unit in Grant County. Leader will be Dan Sonnenberg. We expect to see late butterflies and several unusual southern immigrants. A hat and long pants are recommended. Bring a lunch and binoculars (the closer they focus the better). A few extra binoculars are available.

Meet at 10:30 a.m. Allow 50 minute travel time from Middleton.

DIRECTIONS: Take Hwy 14 west to Lone Rock, south on Hwy 130, then turn right on Hwy 133. Go West about 8.1 miles to the intersection with Hwy 80. Continue West on 133 for 0.6 miles, and take the first road on the right. Call Dan at (608) 225-0451 only if you have a question about the trip.

NOTE:  The 130 bridge may be closed for repairs. If so from Spring Green take Hwy 23 South turn right on Hwy C. Right on Hwy 130 and straight (West) Hwy 133. Go west about 5.0 miles, turn right on Hay Road, and drive north to the parking lot just before the creek.