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Priority Species


Monarch butterfly

The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is the lead partner coordinating regional efforts to conserve four different species, the monarch butterfly, smooth green snake, rusty patched bumblebee, and the regal fritillary butterfly. Twelve different species have been designated as “priority species” by Chicago Wilderness, a regional conservation alliance, and the Nature Museum is proud to be one of the organizations developing strategies to protect these species.

Join friends and neighbors to support wildlife in the Chicago region through a crowd-funding campaign. With your help, we will protect fragile habitats and promote the health of local wildlife populations. This campaign will help partners across the region to restore, monitor, and research the landscapes and wildlife we all value. Check out our priority species below!

    • Monarch Butterfly

      Monarch Butterfly

      The Monarch butterfly is one of North America’s most recognizable species. This species' population has dropped significantly in recent years, in part due to loss of milkweed, the food plant for their caterpillars.

      The Nature Museum teaches over 5,000 students and community partners through more than 200 workshops each year about Monarch butterflies which emphasize the importance of creating Monarch habitats, and fosters personal connections with this vibrant, recognizable insect.

      Support the Monarch Butterfly

    • Smooth Green Snake

      Smooth Greensnake

      Smooth Greensnakes occupy a wide range of habitats, though they depend on moist, grassy areas in prairies, marshes or near lakes. This species is declining due to habitat destruction and pesticide use. Some populations have been completely eradicated.

      The Nature Museum is raising juvenile snakes for eventual release into the wild, and studying the best techniques to help the snake population recover.

      Support the Smooth Greensnake

    • Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

      Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

      Rusty Patched bumble bees have recently experienced a 95% population decrease. Loss of essential grassland habitat, increased use of toxic pesticides, reduced availability of nesting grounds, disease, and a changing climate with extreme weather patterns have all played a role in their decline.

      The Nature Museum is working to monitor and assist this essential pollinator.

      Support the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

  • Regal Fritillary. Photo by Doug Taron.

    Regal Fritillary

    The Regal Fritillary is currently listed as threatened in Illinois, with reduced numbers. Today, the fritillary is found in less than 5% of its historic range within the Chicago Wilderness Region, as prairie removal has decimated its habitat.

    The Nature Museum is working to assess potential homes for the Regal Fritillary and develop techniques for breeding this fragile species.

    Support the Regal Fritillary

These aren't the only species we support with our conservation work. Click here to learn more about our involvement in Blanding's turtle and Baltimore Checkerspot conservation.

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