October 31, 2008

Bob, in from the field, surrounded by feminine pulchritude and a motherlode of Florida butterfly expertise: Kathy Malone, Jackie Miller, and Alana Edwards, at the Bonefish Restaurant in Gainesville.

Unknown jumping spider on Carphephorus corymbosus. Photo by Linda Cooper.

Jack Shaw, Buck Cooper, Kay Eoff, Bob Pyle and Lucie Bruce with their binoculars focused on the first Loammi Skipper (Atrytonopsis loammi). Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

Bob pointing to Loammi skipper. Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

Loammi skipper. Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

The following is an entry written by Linda Cooper, Osceola County, Florida

Monday, October 20

10:15 a.m
The assignment was simple enough – find Loammi Skipper (Florida Dusted Skipper) – a ‘must see’ for Bob Pyle in his search for butterflies in Florida. His goal is high. He is looking for as many butterflies in the U. S.

as he can see in one year and it is already mid-October. He is taking pledges per species to raise money for butterfly conservation for The Xerces Society. We promised to help him in his search for this skipper in our neck of the woods. In a serendipitous moment we find Lucie Bruce, a Houston, TX butterfly enthusiast, has arrived at Bull Creek. She is invited to join Bob, Jack Shaw and Kay Eoff, who have driven from Gainesville, and Buck and me for a full day of walking wildflower fields. An extra pair of eyes is a great thing. We are wondering if we will see any butterflies today. The fields of Liatris and Carphephorus are fading fast. What had been filled with butterflies just nine days ago were largely devoid of activity in the cool morning.

Stiff breezes make following butterfly flight difficult but as the morning warms they begin to settle on the purple blossoms. The sharp-eyed Gainesville guys find the first Loammi – and then another. Soon we all begin to find them. One even had mismatched ventral hind wings with white smiley-face pattern on one side but mostly unpatterned on the other. Bob only needs to see one Loammi and we end up with ten! As we move farther along West Loop Road we find fresher Liatris and Ccarphephorus fields. Assorted swallowtails dance on the purple blossoms. Bob finds a Dotted Skipper, rarely seen so far south in the peninsula.

4:30 p.m
We finish up by driving north on Cemetery Road through water-filled mud holes. At the end of the road we walk around the old cemetery, reading headstones and markers, shaking shrubs looking for White M Hairsteak. No luck with this one.

5:15 p.m
Time to depart to meet Akers Pence in Melbourne for a quick dinner before he and Bob head south to search for tropical species. We end the day with 31 species and 249 individuals: life butterflies for most and an opportunity to spend the day with new and old friends in a beautiful area of old Florida.

So many butterflies…
so little time!


 

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The Xerces Society » News

‘Canary in the cornfield': monarch butterfly may get threatened species status

By Morgan Erickson-Davis, mongabay.com

Monarch butterflies were once a common sight throughout the North American heartland. In Mexico, where they overwinter, single trees would often be covered in thousands. But declines in milkweed – their caterpillars’ only source of food – have led to a 90 percent decline in monarch numbers. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is reviewing a petition that would grant the iconic species protection through the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The monarch (Danaus plexippus) is one of the world’s greatest insect migrators, flying 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) over four generations from breeding grounds as far north as Nova Scotia to forests in Mexico where they overwinter. However, fewer and fewer have been congregating in Mexico. Surveys conducted by scientists have tracked an overall steep decline over the past two decades.

Read more at MongaBay.com


Petition Seeks to Protect Monarchs

By Jim Lundstrom, Peninsula Pulse

A legal petition was filed on Aug. 26 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that seeks Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies. The petition says there has been a 90 percent decline in monarchs in the past two decades.

The petitioners say the decline is due to the “drastically reduced and degraded” monarch habitat, which has been caused by development, logging, climate change and, especially, pesticides.

The two-decade time frame is important because it relates to the introduction of genetically engineered crops that are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s widely used weed killer Roundup). In 1996 Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” soybeans that were genetically engineered to resist Roundup. Two years later Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” corn. Today, 94 percent of soybeans and 89 percent of corn grown in the United States are “Roundup Ready” crops.

Read more at PPulse.com


Conservationists fight for monarch butterfly protections

By Brooks Hays, UPI

COLLEGE STATION, Texas,– Monarch butterflies have begun their 3,000-mile trek southward; with summer coming to a close in Canada, it’s time to make their way to Mexico for the winter. It sounds like a nice life, but it’s a life that’s increasingly under siege, scientists say. Now, some are arguing federal protections are warranted.
Studies show the monarch’s milkweed habitat continues to lose out to industrial agriculture — threatening the long-term health of the monarch species.

Now, both scientists and environmentalists are ramping the dialogue surrounding the butterfly’s imperiled future and beginning to put pressure on policy makers.

In August, several environmental groups — including the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and others — filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the monarch protected.


Environmentalists Petition to Put the Monarch Butterfly on the Endangered Species List as Its Population Plummets

By Richard Conniff

With Labor Day just ahead, people on both coasts and across the Great Plains should be celebrating the start of one of North America’s great migrations. The spectacle of monarch butterflies working their way back to their winter breeding grounds, across hundreds or thousands of miles, is the longest known insect migration on Earth.

It’s such a popular event, and the monarchs are so beautiful—their brilliant orange wings bordered with a black polka dot hem—that seven states have named monarch butterflies their state insect.

But this year, the parade is mostly canceled, and instead environmental groups have petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species.

Read more at TakePart.com


Groups seek U.S. protection for monarch butterflies

By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist

In a little less than 20 years, monarch butterflies — those orange icons of the garden — have declined more than 90 percent.

On Tuesday, several groups and long-time monarch scientist Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the species.

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range,” said Brower in a press release. He has been studying the species since 1954.

The groups are the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, plus the Xerces Society, which focuses on invertebrate conservation.

Read more at Philly.com