South Dakota ES - Butterfly Garden
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Butterfly Garden


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Service employee conducting and environmental contaminant investigation. Credit: USFWS.

Photo Credit: Doug Backlund,

Over 3,000 perennial plants and numerous annual plants were established in an area approximately 100' x 50'. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to visit the garden to see native prairie plants, try to identify some of the common butterflies of the area, and learn something new about butterflies of South Dakota.

As you arrive at Oahe Downstream's Welcome Center, you may notice a large informational kiosk to the south of the parking lot next to a trail to the garden.

One side of the kiosk has general information about butterflies, butterfly behavior, and butterfly gardening. The other side of the kiosk has identification information for 10 common South Dakota butterflies and 2 rare skippers.

What's in the Garden?

Seventeen South Dakota native perennial plants will be placed in 17 plots with 6 "clumps" of plants. Each "clump" is really made up of 36 individual plants of the same species. This type of grouping will encourage butterflies to linger in an area where the nectar is good. And shortens the flight distance to the next flowering clump. We have tried to arrange the plants so something will be blooming spring through fall and in a variety of color.

The native perennial plants really exceeded our expectations in 2013. They were tall, put out lots of flowers and roots. Some species didn't do as well (textile onions), but hopefully they survived and will be back in the spring of 2014. While the plants are starting in nicely arranged clumps, we hope they will spread and fill in some gaps so it looks more like a native prairie setting. There will be plenty of annual plants to attract and feed the butterflies until then.

Special areas have been arranged for the butterflies.
1) puddling areas - where butterflies can drink water and get extra nutrients from dissolved minerals,

2) lots of rocks - where butterflies can rest and absorb heat from the sun,

3) classroom area - where tours and classroom groups can meet and talk about the garden and its inhabitants.

Three benches are placed in the garden during the summer so you can stop and rest or just sit and watch the action.

Where is the Garden?

Oahe-Downstream Location Map

Fort Pierre, South Dakota

What makes this possible?

Remember - no collecting in the Garden.
Please leave your butterfly nets and caterpillar jars at home. Thanks.

Butterfly Garden News »

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2020 will be our eighth growing season in the Oahe Downstream Butterfly Garden. 15 classes are currently signed up to grow annuals for the garden

What's Happening - Little Wings on the Prairie Festival - July 17, 2021»

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We will be having our Seventh Annual "Little Wings on the Prairie" butterfly festival on Saturday, July 17, 2021.

Festival Time: 9 am - Noon

Butterfly Gardening Information - Prairie Potters Master Gardeners

Crafts for Kids - Discovery Center

Butterfly Metamorphosis and Ornament - Fort Pierre National Grasslands

Pollinator Ball - Pheasants Forever

Honey Tasting - Sam Missal

Pollinator Parade

Monarch Migration Maze and lots of pollinator games
Experts and lots of information on pollinators and butterfly gardening



For Kids, Teachers and Garden Visitors »

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Now available as downloadable documents . . . .

Butterfly Activity/Curriculum Guide by Jen Fowler (4.78 MB pdf format)

Common Butterfly Photos - to use with the Activity Guide (734 KB pdf format)

Prairie Butterfly Identification Poster (3.92 MB pdf format)
This is most readable when printed at a large size.

Oahe Downstream Prairie Butterfly Garden Brochure (346 KB pdf format)

South Dakota Butterflies Check List Revised September 2014

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Remember - no collecting in the Garden. Please leave your butterfly nets and caterpillar jars at home. Thanks.


Ella is My Hero »

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The Connecticut Connection or Ella is my Hero . . .

Ella D. (age 6) gets her own webpage because it is kids like her that make my day and make my work worth doing. Thanks Ella! Thanks to your sisters Cass, Grace, and Keira for joining in too.

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Garden Progress »

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: March 11, 2021
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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