An understanding of the movement dynamics of invertebrates can be critical to their conservation, especially when managing relatively small, isolated habitats. Most studies of butterfly movement have focused on metapopulation dynamics at relatively large spatial scales, and the results from these studies may not translate well for patchy populations within a single nature preserve. In this work we use individual mark and recapture (IMR) methods to follow the movements of two species of butterfly, Megisto cymela (Cramer) and Speyeria cybele F. (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) within a 240 hectare forest and grassland preserve in central Iowa, USA. Significant redistribution was seen in both species, with 55.7% of S. cybele and 31.1% of M. cymela undergoing interpatch movement. Median movement rates during the study were 105 m/day for S. cybele and 38 m/day for M. cymela, with the top decile moving at a rate of over five times these values. This movement did not appear to be random. S. cybele exhibited directed movement towards patches with high nectaring potential, although not all such patches were selected. M. cymela aggregated in particular prairie patches, especially those with high edge to area ratios, although the reason for aggregation is not clear.
Courard-Hauri, David; Wick, Ashley A.; Kneubuhler, Lindsey K.; and Summerville, Keith S.
"Patch-Scale Movement Dynamics in the Iowa Grassland Butterflies Speyeria Cybele and Megisto Cymela (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae),"
The Great Lakes Entomologist, vol 39
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/tgle/vol39/iss2/8