Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 49:83-84; 2017


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


As soon as I got my hands on A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America, I immediately checked the species account for Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite). The prairie version of this species can be sufficiently different from the typically illustrated nominate subspecies such that it must be specifically explained as being distinct. This book passed my first test—describing details that were not only essential for identifying this fritillary species but also for realizing how similar its underside can be to our prairie specialty, the stunning Regal Fritillary (S. idalia).

Much of my research on butterflies occurs in grasslands. For a butterfly field guide to work well in prairies, it must provide continent-wide coverage. Books of lesser scope inevitably consider the midcontinent region as marginal instead of central to their coverage. But a continent-wide book necessarily includes many species irrelevant to prairies. To aid readers in separating out some of those species, this guide clearly codes the many species recorded or possible only in far southern areas.