Bringing back the Silver Spotted Butterfly one Violet, one Yarrow, one Golden Rod, one Pearly Everlasting and one Blue Aster at a time!
Volunteers descended on a meadow Saturday near Ten Mile Creek, helping to create more prime habitat for the threatened Oregon Coast Silverspot Butterfly which has been declining very quickly along the central coast. Invasive species of grasses and brush, along with human influences, have crowded out their habitat which provides close-in accessible food for the insect’s caterpillar and butterfly stages of life.
Volunteers recruited by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Nature Conservancy were busy Saturday planting Violets and Yarrow which provide early stage food for the butterfly’s caterpillar along with Golden Rod, Pearly Everlasting and Aster which provides the nectar for the emerging butterfies to feed on to complete their life cycle. Later in the season the butterflies will lay their eggs in the patches of violets and the cycle will repeat itself.
While the volunteers were planting seedlings, the mature nectar flowers in a flower bed planted last year were already feeding adult butterflies that will soon be laying their eggs among the violets.
As you can see in the picture of the trays of emerging caterpillars, they’re about to become butterflies and fly immediately into their prime habitat created by last year’s volunteers. The eggs-to-caterpillar stock was raised at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.
USFWS biologist Anne Walker said there are five prime habitat areas along the coast where habitat monitoring continues. Mount Hebo in north Lincoln County and Lake Earl near Bandon offer robust ecologies for the Silverspot Butterfly. But the other three are in different stages of being upgraded. They include an area of Cascade Head, just north of Lincoln City, Bray’s Point which is the location of Saturday’s habitat enhancement work and Rock Creek just to the south. Blackberries and invasive species have been cleared and meadow conditions restored to usher in rows of flowers necessary for the butterfly’s comeback. Even ODOT has been enlisted in the recovery effort by trimming nearby highway vegetation so that the butterflies are not attracted to traffic areas that come with fast moving windshields.
Walker says it’s an ongoing process to help bring the butterfly back from the brink of extinction along the central coast. She says it’ll take dedication and consistency over a number of years to restore butterfly numbers from Rock Creek north to Cascade Head to remove it from its “Threatened” status under the U.S. Endangered Species List.