Extinct & Almost Extinct: Oregon Silverspot Butterfly

-The following painting with notes is from my Extinct & Almost Extinct project –

extinct - oregon silverspot butterfly - 2015-12-12 at 11-13-16

Oregon Silverspot Butterfly-

saved from extinction-

The Oregon Silverspot Butterfly historically ranged from Washington to northern California. Their habitat is along the coast in salt-spray meadows. This beautiful medium-size butterfly is dependent on its only host plant, the early blue violet. A female lays about 200 eggs in vegetation near the blue violet and the larvae feed on the early blue violet leaves, no other plant will suffice. The adults normally move out of the meadows into fringe brush for heat conservation and nectar feeding.

Only a few places in Oregon and northern California now host populations. Habitat destruction led to listing the butterfly as a threatened species in 1990. The reduction of suitable habitat has been caused by multiple factors: residential and business expansion with their parking areas and lawns, public parkland development and traffic, overgrazing, and the use of off-road vehicles. In the past wildfires and wild animal grazing helped to keep the meadows open.

Today efforts are being made to actively maintain and nurture the salt-land meadows that support the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly. These include mowing, burning, and planting native plants in the meadows. A captive breeding program was begun in 1999 by several Northwest zoos. These breeding programs involve raising the butterfly to the pupae stage and then releasing them into areas with declining populations. Up to 2000 pupae have been released each year, augmenting the butterfly population and increasing the possibility of survival for this lovely creature.

 

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