Endangered Butterflies in North America

July 2009
Dotted Skipper (Hesperia attalus)
Dotted Skipperis found in very restricted areas and is considered to be threatened throughout its range. The states include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The host plants include Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Fall Witchgrass (Leptoloma cognatum). The Dotted Skipper's natural habitat includes short grass prairies, woodland meadows, Pine Barrens, and dry sandy locations. These areas have decreased mostly because of human developments and agricultural needs.

To obtain more information on the Dotted Skipper, please visit the NatureServe website. (Photo Credit: MaryAnn Friedmann)
 

May 2009
Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus)
Bronze CopperThe Bronze Copper butterfly is listed as a state endangered species in New Jersey and a species of concern in Connecticut. The Bronze Copper is widespread but exists in small and isolated populations.

The natural habitat includes wet or moist areas such as marshes, bogs, and other wetlands.  The loss of these habitats has been attributed to the areas being drained and filled. The Bronze Copper has also been affected by the use of herbicides and insecticides.

The host plants include Curly Dock (Rumex crispus), Water Dock (Rumex orbiculatus), and Knotweeds (Polygonum spp.). The host plants are widespread and are abundant in many locations. The state of New Jersey is committed to protecting and preserving the wetlands.

For additional information regarding the Bronze Copper, contact the Endangered and Nongame Species, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, at (609) 292-9400. (Photo Credit: Fred Miller)
 

April 2009
Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)
Frosted ElfinThe Frosted Elfin butterfly is listed as a state endangered species in Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Ohio. It is threatened in five states; Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin and is a Species of Concern in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The range for this species covers the eastern United States but is local and usually scarce throughout the area.

The host plants include Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria) and Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) along with other species in the family Fabaceae. The natural habitat includes open woods, forest edges, and fields. These areas have decreased with the destruction of barren and savannah habitat mostly because of development and degradation of vegetation due to succession and fragmentation of habitat areas.

For additional information regarding the Frosted Elfin, please visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, http://www.xerces.org/frosted-elfin. (Photo Credit: MaryAnn Friedmann)
 

March 2009
Saint Francis' Satyr (Neonympha mitchellii francisci)
The Saint Francis' Satyr butterfly is listed as a federal endangered species. It is located in the sand hills of Hoke and Cumberland counties in North Carolina and there has also been a population found in Virginia.

This butterfly had once been thought to have been collected to extinction and is still wanted by collectors despite its protected status.

The host plants include grasses, sedges, and rushes and are usually located in wet meadows. These areas require regular disturbances to maintain an open habitat. It is thought that these areas have decreased due to the loss of damming activities by beavers which have become extirpated.

For additional information regarding the Saint Francis' Satyr, visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Photo Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.)


February 2009
Hessel's Hairstreak (Callophrys hesseli)
Hessel's HairstreakThe Hessel's Hairstreak is listed as a state endangered species in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and New York. It is listed as a Species of Concern in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Their scattered populations are along the Atlantic coast south to Georgia, and the Florida panhandle.

The host plant is Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), in the family Cupressaceae. In Georgia and New York, this plant is already considered rare and is a Species of Concern in Maine. In Pennsylvania, this plant has already been extirpated. Insecticidal sprays and loss of the Atlantic White Cedars have contributed to the decreased populations of the Hessel's Hairstreak.

For additional information regarding the Hessel's Hairstreak, please visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, www.xerces.org/hessels-hairstreak. (Photo Credit: MaryAnn Friedmann)


January 2009
Arogos Skipper (Atrytone alberta)
Arogos SkipperThe Arogos Skipper is listed as a state endangered species in Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. It is listed as threatened in Minnesota and is listed as a Species of Concern in Iowa. Their scattered, isolated populations east of the Rockies and are declining severely. Some of these locations include Florida, areas around the Gulf Coast, Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia, North Dakota, Colorado, and Minnesota south to Texas.

The host plants are big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), pine barren sandreed (Calamovilfa brevipilis), and lopsided Indiangrass (Sorghastrum secundum). These host plants may vary depending on the location. The natural habitats are mostly undisturbed prairie and grasslands. Many of these areas have been lost due to developments and agricultural needs. 

For additional information regarding the Arogos Skipper, please visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, www.xerces.org/arogos-skipper/. (Photo Credit: MaryAnn Friedmann)


December 2008
King's Hairstreak (Satyrium kingi)
King's HairstreakThe King's Hairstreak is listed as a state endangered species in Delaware and Maryland, although they are found in small populations along the Atlantic coast south to Florida and west to Texas. Host plants are more common but it is unknown why populations of butterflies are missing from suitable habitats.

The host plant is common sweetleaf (Symplocos tinctoria) in the family Symplocaceae. Its natural habitat includes damp and swampy areas near forests and stream edges. It is likely the butterfly populations have decreased due to forest clearances. Many ecological studies are needed to determine how fires may be affecting this species and why suitable host plants habitats are not being utilized.

For additional information regarding the King's Hairstreak, please visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, www.xerces.org/kings-hairstreak.  (Photo Credit: MaryAnn Friedmann)
 

November 2008
Taylor's Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori)
Taylor's CheckerspotThe Taylor's Checkerspot is listed as a state endangered species in Washington and is a candidate for the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Before its dramatic decline, the Taylor's Checkerspot was documented at more than seventy sites in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. We now know of fourteen populations totaling approximately 2,000 individuals in Washington's Puget Trough and Oregon's Willamette Valley prairies. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has implemented an active conservation plan and is working with the Oregon Zoo on a project to reintroduce the butterfly into its native habitat. The Xerces Society is actively working to protect the Oregon site where this species still occurs.

The host plants include harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), in the figwort/snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae), and Plantago lanceolata  in the plantain family (Plantaginacea). Its natural habitat includes oak balds, meadows in oak woodlands and open grasslands. These areas have decreased with the encroachment of trees, invasive plants, human developments, agricultural needs, recreational activities, and pesticides.

Sarina Jepsen is the Endangered Species Coordinator for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. For additional information contact Sarina at sarina@xerces.org.  (Photo Credit: Dana Ross)
 

October 2008
Mardon Skipper (Polites mardon)
Mardon SkipperThe Mardon Skipper is listed as state endangered in the state of Washington. Small populations remain in only three states; Washington, Oregon, and California. Research efforts have been initiated in these states to form a conservation plan to increase populations.

The host plant is Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) and red fescue (Festuca rubra). Its natural habitat is native open grasslands. These areas have decreased because of fire suppression, introductions of exotic species, human developments, and agricultural needs.

Sarina Jepsen is the Endangered Species Coordinator for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. She is extremely knowledgeable and can be contacted for additional information regarding the Mardon Skipper at sarina@xerces.org. (Photo Credit: Donald Gudehus)
 

September 2008
Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)
Karner BlueThe Karner Blue butterfly is a federally endangered species. Small populations exist in 6 states; Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, and New Hampshire. Conservation efforts are under way in these states to increase populations by restoring Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis), the host plant for the Karner Blue butterfly.

The natural habitat of Wild Lupine is dry, sandy-loamy soil. It needs full sun to grow well. Before habitat restorations began, Wild Lupine populations were decreasing due to fire suppression, mowing, and human development.

Gary Haase, manager at Kitty Todd Preserve, directs the conservation effort in Ohio to reintroduce the Karner Blue butterfly into their natural habitat. He is extremely knowledgeable and has been involved since the first release in 1998. For additional information on the Karner Blue, contact Gary at ghaase@tnc.org. (Photo Credit: Mitch Magdich, The Toledo Zoo)

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