A very small portion of Southern Michigan is home to a small butterfly that may disappear from the face of the Earth. The only other location that is known to support the delicate Poweshiek skipperling is Southeast Manitoba, Canada. 

The small butterfly isn’t all that impressive in coloring. It is colored dark brown on the upperside with orange along the costa. The underside of the hindwings is dark grey with white veins. The wingspan is a mere 24 mm to 30 mm.  

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And somewhat sadly, the little creature emerges in late June or early July and exists in the adult form for approximately a two-week period. During this brief time, the Poweshiek skipperling flutters from flower to flower, gathering nectar, then mates, lays eggs, and departs from this earthly plane. 

Dr. Richard Westwood, Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at the University of Winnipeg explains,  

This particular butterfly only lives in Southeast Manitoba...and in very small areas of Southern Michigan. It used to occupy an area throughout the Northern U.S. and Canada.

The Poweshiek is known as a tallgrass prairie specialist butterfly. Over the past 100 years, the wide-open prairies have disappeared, due to overgrazing and conversion to cropland.  

Collecting the Poweshiek Skipperling butterfly
Collecting Poweshiek Skipperling Butterflies    Uwinnipeg Foundation/YouTube

The Michigan Nature Association has created a short documentary titled “Life on the Brink”, about the work a group of conservation partners is doing to help save this rare butterfly. 

The MNA, John Ball ZooU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Michigan State University’s Haddad Lab have banded together to help save this one of the rarest butterflies from extinction, which is found in only of a handful of sites in Oakland County, Michigan, and Manitoba, Canada. 

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