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Nature was the star at Elkhorn Creek

The butterflies decided to sit out some of The Northwest Illinois Audubon Society’s Elkhorn Creek Butterfly Festival on July 28, yielding the stage to the rest of the creatures and plants that call the preserve home.

During a late afternoon a walking tour led by John Walt, of Dakota-Freeport, only two monarchs buzzed by the group leaving Walt with plenty of time to talk about the native plants and insects at the Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve.

“This is what is called the cup plant,” Walt said as he reached for one of the large green plants, “You can see here that the leaves actually collect rain water.”

The leaves themselves form a small basin that allows rain water to collect in tiny pools around the stem, hence the cup comparison.

“Here are some ants and aphids on this leaf,” Walt said.

Around 75 people attended this year’s free event.

Located southwest of Forreston, north of Polo, the 43-acre site is home to several remnant hillside prairies, some wetland features, and a portion of Elkhorn Creek.

Grasses such as big bluestem and little bluestem in addition to milkweeds, wild bergamot (bee balm), spiderwort, and coneflowers are just some of the forbs and grasses on the site.

Volunteers are busy working to restore and re-create native communities. Individuals are welcome to participate in various management tasks including seed collecting and planting, weed suppression, wood cutting, and prescribed burning.

Many species of wildlife occur in the habitat with 450 species recorded including 130 species of birds, 77 species of insects, and 201 species of plants.

The Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve is located three miles southwest of Forreston in the southwest corner of West Grove and Freeport Roads.