the Fender blue butterfly Flutter away from the brink of extinction.
This species, which was once thought to be extinct, is no longer considered endangered. According to a January 11 press release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The organization has reclassified the species from “endangered” to “threatened” and has also completed a rule to make it easier for landowners to manage the species.
“This is a tremendous success story—to go from near extinction to a path to recovery,” Craig Rowland, acting state superintendent of the Oregon State Service Bureau, said in the release. “We’ve only gotten to this point of being able to drop off the list because of successful partnerships with landowners, conservation agencies, corporations, and other agencies, and the work of our National Wildlife Refuges to conserve the Fender butterfly.
“This is another species that is making incredible strides in Oregon,” he added.
The reclassification will take effect on February 13, according to the statement.
The Fender blue butterfly is found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley – a 150-mile stretch of land in the state that stretches from Portland to Eugene – Service says. This species was thought to be extinct in 1937 but was later discovered in 1989. Thanks to local conservation efforts, the butterfly population has expanded from around 3,391 in 2000 to 13,700 in 2018. According to a species assessment from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
For Sjod Ottman, a teacher of biology and urban agriculture at Evanston Township High School in Illinois and an aficionado of butterfly conservation, the species’ recovery is a “sign of hope” for other endangered species.
Ottman told CNN that the Fender blue butterfly is unique because it prefers to lay its eggs on a single host plant, the Kincaid lupine. This makes the survival of the butterfly and the plant deeply intertwined. Kinkaid lupine is also classified as “threatened”. By the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ottmann added that the insects are also interesting because of their life cycle. Fender caterpillars enter a type of delayed development called diapause during the winter before emerging as fully formed butterflies. Adults only live about 10 days, during which time they must find a mate and reproduce.
Habitat loss and human prevention from natural wildfires are the two main threats to the fender blue butterfly, Osman said. Wildfires are necessary to prevent the prairie habitats that butterflies depend on from becoming forested.
Conservation efforts have included the cultivation of thousands of Kinkaid lupins for butterflies to lay their eggs as well as prescribed fires to preserve the vital prairie environment.
Ottman added that the species’ reclassification is “wonderful news.” “It is very inspiring, to know that a butterfly that was once thought extinct has now been removed from the endangered species list.
“It’s really amazing, and it gives me so much hope.”
As pollinators, she explained, butterflies are a critical component of our ecosystems. This is part of the importance of protecting endangered butterflies. “I feel like this story is, well, really empowering and I hope it lights a fire inside to continue their conservation efforts,” she said.
For Osman, the recovery of the blue fender butterfly may signal hope for other endangered butterfly species, such as the iconic monarch butterfly. Kings It is classified as “endangered”. by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in July 2022.
“My dream is for the king to follow in the footsteps of the fender blue butterfly, you know, flourish too,” she said. “I think we can do it, that we can reverse the damage we’ve done.”