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Charleston Butterfly Blitz starts Saturday

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Hank Campbell, chair of the Rhymer Family Nature Preserve board, talks about how Ione Rhymer’s dream of a preserve is coming true.

CHARLESTON — Butterfly-lovers have an opportunity to win prizes for participating in the Urban Butterfly Initiative's Charleston Butterfly Blitz starting Saturday through Aug. 1. 

The Butterfly Blitz is a weeklong period when individuals are invited to take photos of butterflies around Coles County and upload the images to

“Good places to look for butterflies include flower gardens, unmowed roadsides, and butterfly hotspots that UBI has created at Lake Charleston, Fox Ridge State Park, Charleston Public Library, and other sites near Charleston," said director of UBI Paul Switzer.

UBI seeks to increase biodiversity, beauty, and scientific awareness in  communities. They also help create low-cost and low-maintenance spaces that attract butterflies to city parks, greenways, and other public areas. They partner with both public and private groups.

The city of Charleston has transformed over 30 acres of city-owned property into butterfly habitat, including native wildflowers. Charleston has been praised for being butterfly-friendly, becoming a National Wildlife Federation Mayor's Monarch Pledge Champion City, a Monarch City-USA, and even the Butterfly Capital of Illinois.

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Butterfly Blitz

A buttlerfly sits on a leaf, ready to be photographed as part of the Butterfly Blitz.

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“Every year is different, which is a big reason why having the Blitz is so valuable.” Switzer said.  “People can help us track trends in butterfly populations in our area from year to year, which is really cool.”

Many different species of butterflies have been catalogued around the Charleston area. Last year alone, in nearly 2,000 submitted photos, individuals found 46 different species.

The photos can be uploaded via iNaturalist's phone app or over the computer. Those uploading photos do not need to know what species of butterfly is in the photo in order to upload. iNaturalist helps identify them, but people can download a free guide to common local butterflies at

City of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Fox Ridge State Park, and Bike & Hike-Charleston are co-sponsoring the event.

Prizes include $100 dollars off any bike purchase at Bike & Hike,$75 off labor for Bike & Hike-Charleston, a free water bottle, or a t-shirt. Top contributors should contact the Urban Butterfly Initiative at to arrange a time to pick up their prize.

People can keep track of the progress and standings for this year’s Butterfly Blitz at



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Theatre in the Park will put on a performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera "Patience" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Kiwanis Park Daum Amphitheatre. 

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