Leona’s little blue butterfly one step closer to protection

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines that a Klamath County, Oregon butterfly may be threatened with extinction and initiates a status review

For immediate release:
August 17, 2011
Contact: Sarina Jepsen, Director, Endangered Species Program, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; 503-232-6639 ext. 112, sarina@xerces.org

PORTLAND, Ore. — In response to a petition from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized today that Leona’s little blue butterfly may qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

There is only one population of Leona’s little blue butterfly — found in the Antelope Desert in Klamath County, Oregon — known to exist in the world. This highly endemic species occupies a specialized niche on private timberland and a small part of the Winema National Forest.

“With only 2,000 individuals of this species remaining worldwide, a single event — such as a wildfire — could lead Leona’s little blue to extinction,” said Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director of the Xerces Society. “Protection under the Endangered Species Act will provide a crucial safety net for this iconic species.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service affirmed in today’s finding that this small butterfly is threatened by catastrophic wildfire and encroaching conifers. The Service recognized that Leona’s little blue butterfly is inherently more vulnerable to stochastic events because of the small size of its population. Today’s finding triggers a twelve-month status review by Fish and Wildlife Service biologists; the result of that status review will be a decision whether or not to list the butterfly as an endangered species.

“Leona’s little blue butterfly can be considered an indicator of the health of the Antelope desert,” said Ani Kame’enui of Oregon Wild, a co-petitioner. “This butterfly may be small, but by protecting its critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act, we will safeguard an essential piece of wild Oregon.”


 

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Citizen scientists tracking Ohio bumblebees

Nolly Dakroury, The Columbus Dispatch

Luciana Musetti is fascinated by bumblebees.

“They play a vital role to our environment, and they are beautiful, too,” Musetti, an entomologist and curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection at Ohio State University’s Museum of Biological Diversity, said in an email.

When she can, she photographs them. That’s why she was excited to have stumbled upon bumblebeewatch.org, a website for citizen scientists devoted to tracking bumblebee populations in North America.

“The idea of the website is, if we can track where populations are now, we can start making conservation efforts,” said Rich Hatfield, one of the founders of the website.

Read more at Dispatch.com


State probe of Portland bee deaths finds lethal dose of banned chemical

Kelly House, The Oregonian

State investigators found lethal levels of a banned insecticide in the systems of bees found dead last month in downtown Portland.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture released results Friday of investigations into the June 26 bee deaths near Pettygrove Park, as well as two nearby bee die-offs in mid-June.

Investigators collected as many as 400 dead bees, although witnesses said the total death toll could have been far larger.

The Oregonian previously reported about the Pettygrove incident, in which Portland law student Corinne Fletcher stepped outside her doorstep to find countless bumblebees dead or dying on a walkway leading into the park.

Read more at OregonLive.com


World’s Biggest Bumblebee at Risk of Extinction

John R. Platt, Scientific American

I’ve seen some big bumblebees in my time, but nothing like South America’s Bombus dahlbomii. “It looks like a flying mouse,” says Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director for the The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “It’s huge, colorful and incredibly charismatic.”

B. dahlbomii is, in fact, the world’s largest bumblebee. Native to the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile, the queens of the species can reach an amazing four centimeters in length. That’s two to three times the size of one of the most recognizable North American species, the American bumblebee (B. pensylvanicus).

Read more at ScientificAmerican.com