Butterfly Habitat Network: Focus on Southern California

(Hermes Copper photographed by Ken Wilson earlier this year)

Lycaena hermes is the focus of today’s entry, where NABA hopes to establish managed habitat for the beleagured Hermes Copper who have suffered habitat loss due to wildfies in Southern California.

Here’s a great introduction to the Hermes Copper from American  Butterflies by Daniel Marschalek:


American Butterflies covered the natural disaster during 2003 closely, including this follow-up:


Here’s the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species profile for the Hermes Copper:


Want to help this species thrive? Support our mission by becoming a member or donate!

Butterfly Habitat Network – Focus on Klots’ Bog

(Georgia Satyr photographed by Jeffrey Glassberg in 2010 at Klots’ bog)

Today we are going to take a closer look at the three species that we will be targeting as part of the Butterfly Habitat Network’s potential satellite location in the Lakehurst, Ocean County, New Jersey area, Klots’ Bog. Want to help us preserve these species through direct land management? Join or Donate today!


Named after entomologist Alexander B. Klots, author of Butterflies of the World this habitat is described via this great post by Rick over at Lep Log: https://leplog.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/wading-through-lep-history-at-klots-bog/.

(Female Bog Copper, photographed by Jeffrey Glassberg at Klots’ Bog in 2010)

Lycaena epixanthe is a member of the Lycaenidae family, and loves the environment that the bog provides. You can learn more about them on the New Jersey chapter page:


(Two-spotted Skipper photographed by Tom Murray in 2004)

Euphyes bimacula is notable for its strong orange appearance and enjoys wetlands like the bog. The Massachusetts NABA chapter has more information:


(Georgia Saytr photographed by Tom Palmer earlier this year)

Neonympha areolatus is our third and final species of special concern in this landscape. Its eyespots are a major feature when identifying this species; you can learn more about them on the New Jersey NABA chapter page:


Georgia Satyr at Lakehurst bonus: https://blogs.stockton.edu/sjbfs/2011/06/26/and-now-we-have-81/

Butterfly Habitat Network: Focus on South Florida

700105c5-14bf-42ac-acde-6b78b94e9e76-7778-000010b4cd756431_tmp(Florida Leafwing, photographed by Holly L. Salvato)

We need your help! Want to help NABA realize its goals for butterfly habitats?
Join https://safesite.4agoodcause.com/naba/join1.aspx?id=1 or Donate https://safesite.4agoodcause.com/naba/donation1.aspx?id=1 today!

South Florida is the subject of this week’s series on the Butterfly Habitat Network (BHN) regional locations, where we have numerous species that are at risk and need our help. Two federally listed species have been mismanaged: Schaus’ Swallowtail & the Miami Blue. Their habitats were managed in ways that met other priorities rather than the butterflies (building picnic areas, etc). NABA’s American Butterflies publication has a great overview: http://www.naba.org/pubs/ab213_4/ab213_4_South_Florida_Imperiled_Butterflies.pdf

Let’s take a closer look at some of these species.

Miami Blue (Cyclargus thomasi)
One of NABA’s own southeast Florida chapters is named after them: http://miamiblue.org/. This gorgeous butterfly is also the current symbol of the BHN.

This female endangered Miami Blue Butterfly is nectaring on Painted Leaf Flowers Copyright 2005 Michelle Wisniewski [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D70 Focal Length: 400mm Optimize Image: Custom Color Mode: Mode II (Adobe RGB) Noise Reduction: OFF 2005/01/17 16:25:19.1 Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority White Balance: Direct sunlight Tone Comp: Auto RAW (12-bit) Lossless Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern AF Mode: AF-C Hue Adjustment: 0° Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000) 1/400 sec - F/9 Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached Saturation: Enhanced Exposure Comp.: 0 EV Sharpening: Auto Lens: VR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6 D Sensitivity: ISO 200 Image Comment: [#End of Shooting Data Section]
This female endangered Miami Blue Butterfly is nectaring on Painted Leaf Flowers
Copyright 2005 Michelle Wisniewski
If  you haven’t already, check out our excellent article on this threatened species on our website: http://www.naba.org/miamiblue.html

Schaus’ Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus)

Called one of Florida’s rarest butterflies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Schaus’ Swallowtail has previously received grants from NABA to conserve this endangered species. Here’s the FWS fact sheet on them: https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pubs/facts/schaus_swallowtail_fs.pdf

(Schaus’ Swallowtail, photographed by Holly L. Salvato)

Here is Jaeson Clayborn discussing the Habitat Enhancement project at Biscayne National Park: http://miamiblue.org/schaus-swallowtail-habitat/

(Check out this gem of an email I found from the Yale.edu website: http://mailman.yale.edu/pipermail/leps-l/2002-May/007673.html It discusses both the Miami Blue and Schaus’ Swallowtail and some of NABA’s early efforts to conserve them in the area)

Florida Leafwing (Anaea troglodyta)

Pictured above, check out the WeButterfly beta page on this species: https://www.webutterfly.org/beta/Species/Details/1013 from that link:
“This species is in danger of becoming extinct, because its rock pineland habitat in southern Florida and the Keys has largely disappeared and because of the misuse of anti-mosquito sprays, which kill these and other endangered butterflies, and subject the people of the area to toxic chemicals that endanger their health and that of their children. Some treat this butterfly as a subspecies of Tropical Leafwing.”

Here’s a short pieces by Mark Salvato on Leafwings: http://www.naba.org/pubs/ab161/amb161Florida_Leafwing_frass.pdf

Bertram Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon acis)

(Photo by Linda Evans)

Here’s a great blog post from Linda Evans with pictures from Hank Poor on the Bertram Scrub-Hairstreak’s nectar plants for this endangered species: http://miami-blue-chapter-naba.blogspot.com/2010/07/nectar-plants-for-bartrams-scrub.html

Zestos Skipper (Epargyreus zestos ) – Unfortunately now extinct in this area

(A Zestos Skipper, from the awesome Butterflies of Cuba website, photographed by Robert Brown: http://www.butterfliesofcuba.com/epargyreus-zestos—zestos-skipper.html)

Sadly the Zestos Skipper has vanished from South Florida, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes they are likely extinct here. If we don’t act to conserve these endangered and threatened species, they may wind up like the Zestos Skipper! Here are some pieces from the Miami Blue chapter site on it:



Butterfly Habitat Network: Focus on the Prairie

(Regal Fritillary photographed by Steven Glynn in 2015)

Want to help us conserve the butterflies of the prairie? You can donate and choose the Butterfly Habitat Network location of your choice, or just join and become a member!

This first of our seven part series will focus on one of our Butterfly Habitat Network (BHN) satellite locations. Today, let’s focus on the Prairie, a landscape with some butterfly species that really need our help: Poweshiek Skipperling, Dakota Skipper, Otoe Skipper, Regal Fritillary, and ‘Pawnee’ Leonard’s Skipper. We’ll look at two pieces. First, our Executive Director Marcus B. Gray takes a look at the conservation challenge for this area, and then we have a classic NABA piece by Barry Williams on the plight of the Regal Fritillary.
The Plight of the Prairie – and its Butterflies
by Marcus Brandon Gray
In the years surrounding World War II, Aldo Leopold wrote about how our natural heritage was resigned to roadside ditches, cemeteries and other “odd areas.” Since the time of settlement in the Great Plains, land conversion has been the status quo. My own ancestors were party to the complete redesign of the Missouri landscape. It’s part of the reason I became a Wildlife Biologist in the first place. This land has given so much to us, it’s time to give something back.

Vast prairies once stretched across the Midwest from the Great Lakes to the Dakotas. The occupied range of prairie chickens, wolves, cougars, bison, elk and dozens of lesser-known animal and plant species was decimated. Only in my lifetime have eagles, beaver, otter, rattlesnakes, black bears and cougars begun to recolonize – many with assistance of state wildlife management agencies and an aging human population “moving to town” or otherwise off the land. These are the more adaptable fauna that are able to recover once government-sponsored removal campaigns were abolished.

The latest concern from the avian world is the marked decline of the bobwhite quail. Loss of native prairie and intensive farming practices have eliminated the “odd areas.” Quail were able to adapt for a time, benefitting from hedgerows while prairie chickens lost out; although they held on while farms were small. Quail are suffering significantly from the conversion of hayfields and pasture to fescue coupled with the bulldozing of hedgerows. In the East, the opposite is the case – too many trees. Butterflies share many of the same habitats critical to game animals, neotropical migratory birds and grassland birds. Waterfowl nest in the upland grasslands used by butterflies. When resident game bird enthusiasts decry roadside mowing or fund projects to create brood habitat, they are promoting butterflies. What are young birds eating in those forest openings touted by the ruffed grouse hunter or golden-wing warbler watcher? Insects. Caterpillars to be specific.

The excessive use of pesticides is putting the final nail in the coffin for several species. Reduced to fragments of their former habitat, these prairie remnants are subjected to over-management for conflicting objectives. Use of prescribed fire too frequently has also been raised as a concern to the already debilitated populations of rare butterflies and its use rarely considers the influence it has on non-migratory or primarily sessile butterfly species. While prescribed fire can be a welcomed stewardship tool, for rare prairie butterflies (most of which do not migrate, unlike the well-known Monarch), it can spell disaster for an already-crippled population. The recommendation of butterfly biologists is that fire treatments be implemented in such a way as to minimize mortality of caterpillars, pupae and adults by burning only 1/4 to 1/3 of a site at any given time so as to provide adequate refugia to foster recolonization.

The factors impacting these populations are complex and hard to generalize across the entire Great Plains but the story is well-documented for the tall grass prairie. Busting sod in 1850 was one thing. Our forebearers were striving for a better life and we owe a debt to them for that in one sense. However, there is little excuse for plowing native prairie in 2016. The tiling and draining that has gone on in the last fifteen years in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota is obscene. We should have learned from prior mistakes, learned from the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. As additional pressures are put on producers to grow more food for an increasingly urban and disconnected public, we have real challenges to face in our food system and the people who grow our food for that matter. Farmers are aging and even with an interest in farming the operating capital, equipment and land costs are driving the intensification of agriculture. It’s like we have begun a reaction we are unable to stop.

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) is a 501c(3) organization dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of wild butterflies. NABA is gravely concerned with the precipitous decline of prairie butterflies, including but not limited to: Poweshiek Skippering, Dakota Skipper, Pawnee Leonard’s Skipper, Regal Fritillary and Monarch. Poweshiek Skipperling is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as Endangered. We’re talking extinction here, folks. The butterfly is down to just three known sites in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota The Dakota Skipper is listed as Threatened, is rapidly declining and will likely be lost if something is not done. Other species won’t be far behind. The grasses and forbs critical for the life history of these butterflies are controlled with widespread glyphosate and other herbicide use. Systemic and topical pesticides employed to control true insect pests are adversely impacting whole assemblages of native organisms. Extirpation of large mammals, namely bison and elk have removed major drivers of ecological function from the landscape. Butterflies are the canary in the coal mine for landscape-level impacts to the ecosystem. As the butterflies go, so go other wildlife.

With partners, NABA proposes creation of the North American Prairie Collaborative to develop a series of prairie reserves with the intention of restoring ecological processes that these butterflies evolved with. The idea is to secure funding to purchase contiguous parcels of sufficient size which will allow the group to explore bison serving as a keystone species once again, where compatible. Other programs within this initiative will work to canvass for Congressional designation of a butterfly semi-postal stamp, promote native vegetation establishment on public and private lands via USDA cost-share (conservation payments) and securing matching contributions from partners. Furthermore, conservation easements or leases will be used to increase the overall amount of habitat available for the prairie ecosystem while enhancing the working nature of farms and ranches in the region. Finally, butterflies will be reintroduced to make use of the newly-available habitat.

This collaborative has the potential to bring in non-traditional partners and develop innovative approaches to complex problems. NABA envisions participation from resident game bird organizations, large mammal groups, zoos, institutions of higher learning, state and federal agencies, tribal entities and more. There are some good efforts underway independently but there is a need for coordination to improve effectiveness. For more information about how to get involved, contact the author (Marcus Gray, Executive Director for NABA) at gray@naba.org.

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) is a 501 c(3) non-profit entity headquartered in Morristown, NJ. The organization’s largest project is the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX. Through an active Chapter system and engaged membership, NABA works locally to promote on-the-ground conservation work and institutes policy initiatives to further its mission. For more information visit http://www.naba.org. Connect with us on social media @NABAButterfly.


Winter 1999:
Regal Fritillaries in a Tailspin
a Story of East and West DNA and the Urgent Need for Conservation of a Flagship Species by Barry Williams




Introducing the Butterfly Habitat Network

Continent-wide Butterfly Habitat Network Launched


(A map of the National Butterfly Center and sample satellite regional locations. Click on each to learn more, with a larger explanation below.)

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) is launching the Butterfly Habitat Network (BHN); a new, continent-wide conservation initiative and would love to have your help. Using decades of accumulated knowledge from butterfly count data, natural history investigations, our residential gardening program and regional activities accomplished by the National Butterfly Center and more; NABA is scaling-up efforts to protect, enhance and create habitat specifically for butterflies. We intend to inform work on the landscape level that will benefit not only butterflies but other pollinators and entire accompanying suites of species dependent on the ecosystems where butterflies exist. Butterflies are important pollinators of native plants and represent (as caterpillars) a major food resource for birds. Habitats critical to butterflies are essential to nesting waterfowl, neotropical migratory birds, upland game birds and more. To recover imperiled species of butterflies and keep common species common are our goals. By establishing core reserves in sensitive, often declining, vegetative types, NABA can provide stewardship activities on-the-ground on properties whose management is controlled by biologists dedicated to preservation of butterflies. These core areas will be the critical space needed for population maintenance, as part of a network of public and private working lands managed by NABA and partners, that expands the acreage available to butterflies through Farm Bill incentives and other programs. The mosaic of land conservation strategies is designed to promote biodiversity while fostering sustainability of agricultural operations. Sites for acquisition, easements or habitat augmentation will be selected in reference to their butterfly value, proximity to other suitable habitat and likelihood of long term success.

Why is this important? For many understandable reasons such as competing stakeholder interests, shifting management priorities, decreases in staff/budget and the like; state/federal agencies and more broadly defined non-governmental organizations do not manage solely for butterflies. Often, specific prescriptions are needed to create and maintain quality habitat for butterfly reproduction and overwintering. NABA proposes continuing our efforts to influence management of land with butterflies in mind but believes the time has come as an organization to ramp up activities related to developing a series of butterfly reserves, larger-scale habitat projects and transition into managing populations of butterflies.

The NABA Board of Directors and staff have selected representative projects across the diverse geographic areas of North America as a starting point of the BHN. There are rapidly declining prairie butterflies due to native grassland conversion, diminished populations of butterflies in extreme Southern Florida due to development, problems with transitional habitats maturing beyond their usefulness to rare butterflies in New Jersey, a host of opportunities for dozens of species in Texas and pesticide-impacted species across the continent that require non-treated parcels to recolonize. There are many more areas in need of preservation. You are able to decide which specific project or projects matters the most to you while retaining the ability to allow NABA to apply funding where it is needed most.

Building on our years of work at the local level, your participation is critical to increasing the continent’s populations of butterflies. If we can save butterflies, we can save ourselves ® is more than just a slogan – it is the understanding that adequate, well-cared for space for the wild others of this planet will ensure survival and quality of life for human beings.


Here are our sample regional network locations. Actual sites will be determined over the course of the campaign.

Southern California/Hermes Copper: Wildfires have destroyed critical habitat sites for this species which has yet to receive endangered status. At the same time, although prescribed fire can be a useful management tool, in some situations it is detrimental – especially as the range of a species is drastically reduced. http://butterflies.naba.org/?p=353

Klots’ Bog – New Jersey/Georgia Satyr, Two-spotted Skipper, & Bog Copper: This site is about the marching of succession. The vegetation here is maturing beyond the usefulness to the rare Georgia Satyr, Two-spotted Skipper, and Bog Copper, and this site requires management to provide the growth of a more immature biome. http://butterflies.naba.org/?p=334

Prairie/Poweshiek Skipperling, Dakota Skipper, Ottoe Skipper, Regal Fritillary, and ‘Pawnee’ Leonard’s Skipper: The preservation of tall grass prairie ecosystems is crucial to the endangered Poweshiek Skipperling and threatened Dakota Skipper, Otoe Skipper, Regal Fritillary, and ‘Pawnee’ Leonard’s Skipper as their habitats have been degraded by development. The grasses and forbs critical for the life history of these butterflies are controlled with widespread glyphosate and other herbicide use. Systemic and topical pesticides employed to control true insect pests are adversely impacting whole assemblages of native organisms. Extirpation of large mammals, namely bison and elk have removed major drivers of ecological function from the landscape. Butterflies are the canary in the coal mine for landscape-level impacts to the ecosystem. As these butterflies go, so go other wildlife. http://butterflies.naba.org/?p=289

South Florida/Miami Blue, Schaus’ Swallowtail, Florida Leafwing, and Bertram’s Scrub-Hairstreak: We are seeking to re-establish the Miami Blue and support the Schaus’ Swallowtail, Florida Leafing, and Bertram’s Scrub-Hairstreak. Housing and commercial development has been obliterating these species’ habitat. Mismanagement led to the death of the captive population and destruction of the butterflies’ host plant on state land. http://butterflies.naba.org/?p=306

National Butterfly Center – Mission, Texas: Help us maintain the gardens at the National Butterfly Center. The gardens at the National Butterfly Center are a magnet for, and home to, literally thousands of butterflies. We have created these spectacular gardens using plants native to south Texas and northern Mexico. In fact, we believe that the gardens at the National Butterfly Center are the largest gardens in the United States that showcase regionally native plants in a formal garden arrangement.
Since planting these demonstration gardens, almost 200 kinds of butterflies have been seen at the National Butterfly Center, and many thousands of adults and school children have come to the Center to see and learn about native butterflies.

South Texas/Manfreda Giant-Skipper: We seek to re-establish this species, which hasn’t been seen in the US, north of the border, since the 1980’s. This means creating more habitat containing the Manfreda, this butterflies’ caterpillar food plant.

Central Mexico/Monarch: Human activity threatens the crucial overwintering sites for Monarchs in Central Mexico. Locations protected from mining and logging activities are required to maintain these as viable habitats during this part of the Monarch’s migration.

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) is a 501 c(3) non-profit entity headquartered in Morristown, NJ. The organization’s largest project is the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX. Through an active Chapter system and engaged membership, NABA works locally to promote on-the-ground conservation work and institutes policy initiatives to further its mission. For more information visit http://www.naba.org. Connect with us on social media @NABAButterfly.

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