Conservationists Sue to Protect Sand Mountain blue butterfly in Nevada

Neil Jones neil at
Sat Jan 7 12:39:05 EST 2006

On Sat, 2006-01-07 at 16:44, Stan Gorodenski wrote:
> Neil Jones wrote:
> >On Fri, 2006-01-06 at 21:35, Mike Leski wrote:
> >  
> >
> >>Yea, this is a sticky one.  Last year I was in Reno, and trying to
> >>identify leps that I might pursue come the summer season.  This blue
> >>got my attention.  I researched the internet, be that as it may, and
> >>found that the good ol' boys had identified a number of sites where
> >>they thought the lep could fly, based on host plant records.  I had
> >>planned to visit one or two, but fortunately spent the summer in far
> >>better lep territory.
> >> 
> >>Now, I have no idea who is right, concerning the need to restrict this
> >>spot from 4-wheelers.  However, the part I didn't like from the story
> >>Mike forwarded was the 'found nowhere else' comment about the host. 
> >>Is this true?  I kind of doubt it.  Is it true of the butterfly???
> >> 
> >>Mike
> >>    
> >>
> >
> >It very likely is true. The buckwheat plants which this group of blue
> >butterflies utilise as foodplants are very variable and have evolved
> >into many many different forms. It would seem that many of these forms
> >have their own unique butterfly that is specialised to feed on them. One
> >example I am very familiar with is the El Segundo Blue which utilises a
> >very localised buckwheat which only grows in and around the Los Angeles
> >airport (The largest of the only 3 colonies occurs in the airport
> >grounds.) This creature is dependent on its buckwheat also as a nectar
> >source, and the buckwheat used by its nearest relative just a few miles
> >away is poisonous to its larvae. The remnant area of habitat here is
> >also known as a source for other endemics.
> >One of the features of certain kinds of habitats is that local
> >conditions can lead to hotspots of endemism. Where a particular area
> >supports insects and plants which are found nowhere else on earth.
> >
> >
> >It would seem that this is also the case with the Sand Mountain area.
> >There no fewer than 16 endemics recorded from the locality.
> >
> >
> >Of course it is always possible that the blue occurs elsewhere, although
> >given the ecology and taxonomy of the group it is unlikely. However,
> >this is what the lawsuit is all about. A group of conservation bodies
> >petitioned for the species to be listed.
> >The government then should have investigated the matter, they could then
> >then have surveyed and located other populations.
> >They didn't do this, as they law says they should. The result is that a
> >coalition of organisations is taking them to court to force them to obey
> >the law.
> >  
> >
> Interesting. I guess this is the other side to the other side of the 
> story Paul found in his search of off highway vehicle web sites.
> Stan

Paul Cherubini is as we all know by now ideologically opposed to any
environmental preservation measures.

However, I was just trying to answer a simply question with what the
scientific information on the ecology of the species tells us.

With regard to what the off-roaders say. It does appear that the Bureau
of land management has attempted to reach a compromise with voluntary
measures and that a significant minority of off-roaders have been
ignoring warning notices asking them to behave responsibly and not to
damage vulnerable areas.

This is entirely believable firstly because this is often the case with
voluntary things everywhere. Secondly it is well known there are some
off-roaders who are vehemently oppose nature conservation and advocate
violence against nature lovers. One such group is the notorious "Sahara
Club", who talke of clubbing people and beating them up. Whilst the
article quoted seems reasonably it does not mean that all the people
interested in driving buggies round and round on sand dunes for fun
behave reasonably and if we are to preserve the butterflies for future
generations to enjoy when off-roading has been replaced with another
craze we need to take reasonable actions to prevent a minority of
ignorant people behaving unreasonably.

Neil Jones
Neil at


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list