Checkerspot on the news
viceroy at anu.ie
Sat May 6 04:56:14 EDT 2000
Here it is.
Looks as if planting the host plants in appropriate areas might help.
It is certain that rearing and releasing would not help, unless suitable
sites had been developed. And I bet it requires some weird soil and
Give the correct scientific name, I imagine we can find out what's
Scientific Name: Euphydryas editha bayensis
Date of listing: 1987
Federal Status: Threatened
State Status: None
It is ironic that the insect on which Paul Ehrlich based his idea of
metapopulations, now a
paradigm for conservation of endangered species, has since become
threatened itself. The Bay
Checkerspot Butterfly has experienced serious declines in its
populations since the mid-1980s.
Because this species has long enjoyed the attention of numerous
biologists, its decline was
quickly realized prompting its listing as threatened in 1987.
The Bay Checkerspot has an interesting life cycle which may include a
few different host plants.
Following mating in mid-spring, the female butterflies lay their eggs on
a native plantain,
Plantago erecta. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on this host until
either they have
developed to a point at which they may enter dormancy or the host has
begun to dry up from the
summer heat. If the plantain is not sufficient for development the
larvae may move onto one of
two species of owl's clover (Castilleja densiflorus or C. exserta) which
remain palatable for a
longer period. Generally, one season is not sufficient for completion of
development and the
larvae must enter dormancy until the following winter when the rains
allow plant growth to
begin again. The larvae then emerge to feed for a little longer,
pupating in late winter. The adults
emerge shortly thereafter.
Populations of the Bay Checkerspot historically inhabited numerous areas
around the San
Francisco Bay including the San Francisco peninsula, the mountains near
San Jose, the Oakland
hills, and several spots in Alameda County. Most of these have
apparently disappeared due to
the explosive development of the Bay area in the past century.
Populations are now known only
from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Changing disturbance regimes
(i.e. fire, grazing) as
well as introduced grassland plants have caused declines in host plant
populations. In Santa
Clara County much of the butterfly's habitat is on property owned by a
landfill corporation. An
agreement worked out among the owner, the city of San Jose, and
conservation advocates has
resulted in the protection of much of this habitat in exchange for
development of a small portion of it. In addition, the landowner has
provided funding for the
establishment of a butterfly preserve and for research towards
successful management of the Bay
For further reading:
Murphy, D.D., 1988. Ecology, politics and the Bay Checkerspot butterfly.
Wings 13(1): 4-8, 15.
Murphy, D.D., 1988. The Kirby Canyon Conservation Agreement: A model for
the resolution of
land-use conflicts involving threatened invertebrates. Environmental
Conservation 15(1): 45-48.
Murphy, D.D. and S.B. Weiss, 1988. Ecological studies and the
conservation of the Bay
Checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas editha bayensis. Biological
Conservation 46(3): 183-200.
Pierre A Plauzoles wrote:
> Sunsol wrote:
> > I heard something on the news this morning about a checkerspot. They said
> > that the Army Corps of Engineers gave a permit to a developer in San Jose,
> > CA to put in a shopping mall. And now they will have to wait a year to start
> > construction because of the checkerspot. What will waiting a year do? Do
> > they plan to move the checkerspot?
> I haven't heard aboiut this one, I suspect that you are on the right track.
> Stupid, ignorant move in my opinion. Ask Neil Jones how the same thing went in
> Wales, and you will get a good idea of why I am so adamant about it. OK, Wales
> and California don't match very well, but that is not my point.
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