Xerces Blog Archive


Bringing Back Native Thistles

Published on August 16, 2017

Portions of this blog post have been excerpted from our new guide Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide Native thistles are a largely misunderstood and wrongly maligned group of wildflowers. Often confused with their prickly, invasive relatives such as Canada thistle, in reality, native thistles  are benign and valuable plants that fill a variety of Read more …


The Secret Life of a Mistletoe Butterfly

Published on August 11, 2017

It’s the summer of 2009, and I’m slowly meandering down a shady Forest Service road, butterfly net in hand and royal blue hard hat on my head. Suddenly, I see a flicker of movement near a small puddle just ahead. I freeze, and then slowly start to creep forward. A few calculated (and then not Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Blazingstar

Published on August 9, 2017

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Blazingstar   Liatris spp. Blazing star species are butterfly magnets. When in bloom it’s not unusual to see clusters Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Wild Senna

Published on August 2, 2017

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Wild Senna Senna marilandica, Senna hebecarpa Wild senna is a large perennial with the distinctive foliage and Read more …


To Protects Moths – Turn Out the Lights!

Published on July 27, 2017

Happy Moth Week! National Moth Week is the last full week in July and is a time to get outside – day or night – and appreciate these lesser celebrated Lepidoptera. In celebration of Moth Week we’re sharing the following excerpt from our book Gardening For Butterflies, which includes a chapter on moths and what Read more …


Don’t Downsize the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Published on July 24, 2017

I first visited the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in 2002 when I was searching for new sites of the Mardon skipper butterfly. This rare butterfly had populations in and around the monument, and the Xerces Society was working to confirm that all known populations were still there and to search for any additional populations in the Read more …


Gardening For Moths

Published on July 21, 2017

Happy Moth Week! National Moth Week is the last full week in July and is a time to get outside – day or night – and appreciate these lesser celebrated Lepidoptera. In celebration of Moth Week we’re sharing the following excerpt from our book Gardening For Butterflies, which includes a chapter on moths and what Read more …


Midsummer Management of Pests and Pollinators

Published on July 13, 2017

It’s summer and organic farmers across the U.S. are in the thick of managing weeds and pests. Right now, many of you are getting ready to till out crabgrass, treating crops to control flea beetles or squash bugs, or maybe wishing you had chosen a different cover crop or crop rotation. When making decisions about Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Figwort

Published on July 5, 2017

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Figwort Scrophularia spp. The odds are pretty good that you’ve never encountered figwort, or if you have Read more …


1.3 Billion Stems of Milkweed Needed in Midwest to Recover Monarch Population

Published on June 29, 2017

Adding milkweeds and other native flowering plants into midwestern agricultural lands is key to restoring monarch butterflies, with milkweed sowers from all sectors of society being critically needed for success. Within the past two decades monarch populations east of the Rockies have declined by 80%, with similar declines found in western populations. Because counting individual Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Cup Plant

Published on June 28, 2017

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Cup Plant, Compass Plant, Rosinweed Silhpium spp. Cup plant, compass plant, and rosin weed are common names Read more …


Small Farms, Big Impact: Pollinator Habitat in the Midwest

Published on June 23, 2017

This article originally appeared in our Spring 2017 issue of Wings – available here “Prairie!” Just that one word in the subject line of an email from Erin, a Minnesota vegetable farmer with whom I am working, and I knew it was going to be a great message. The email itself was a series of photographs Read more …


Xerces’ Pollinator Team Grows, Again

Published on June 22, 2017

I have to admit to having worked at the Xerces Society for longer than anyone else. When I joined, there were five people on the staff and I was the only person in the nascent pollinator program. How things have changed: The Society has gone from strength to strength and the pollinator program has staff Read more …


Protecting Pollinators One Community at a Time

Published on

Pollinator week provides a time for us all to reflect on how we can help restore the amazing and diverse pollinator species so inextricably linked to our survival. While the task of bringing back the pollinators can seem daunting, if we focus on our own communities, we really can make a difference. We’ve provided ideas Read more …


Making Almond Orchards Better for Bees

Published on June 21, 2017

Almonds rely on bees for pollination. The crunchy, highly nutritious nuts are the earliest flowering crop in California’s Central Valley, transforming bare fields into a facsimile of a winter wonderland, with white blossoms coating the branches and the ground. To meet the pollination demands of these billions of blooms, farmers import millions of honey bees: Read more …


Bee Better Certified™: Creating Better Places for Bees

Published on June 19, 2017

Collaborating with farmers to protect and restore high-quality habitat for pollinators is a core part of the work of the Xerces Society. We have long realized that, because farming encompasses about half of the U.S. land base, we must work with farmers if we want to provide for a long-term future for pollinators. As part Read more …


Planning Ahead for Mosquito Season

Published on June 12, 2017

Mosquito breeding is well underway in many parts of the country, and every bite stings with the fear of Zika or other mosquito borne illness. It’s understandable why, in the face of a mounting health crisis, communities and health organizations scramble to prevent outbreaks by any means necessary. Spraying may seem like a quick way Read more …


First New Year’s Monarch Count Completed

Published on June 9, 2017

Volunteers with the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count have been monitoring the numbers of monarch butterflies overwintering in California every fall for the last twenty years. To better understand overwintering monarch clusters’ persistence during the overwintering season, the Xerces Society and Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count volunteers launched a New Year’s Count in January 2017. The first New Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Beardtongue

Published on June 8, 2017

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Beardtongue Penstemon spp. Beardtongue gets its name for the hairs that line the protruding lower petal of Read more …


Recruiting Insect Allies to Combat Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Published on June 2, 2017

After a long winter, the arrival of spring has many of us cheering. Ephemeral wildflowers, budding trees, and chirping birds are all welcome signs of nature breaking dormancy. For most people, the sights and sounds of the landscape coming back to life invokes a sense of happiness. The sight of the brown marmorated stink bug Read more …


Managing Mosquitos: Common Sense Solutions

Published on May 31, 2017

Like backyard barbecues and fireflies at night, mosquitos are a part of summer. Mosquito bites are generally unpleasant in their own right, but when they bring with them diseases such as Zika and West Nile virus the impulse is often to use brute force, blanketing the landscape with pesticides rather than taking a more measured Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Culver’s Root

Published on May 24, 2017

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Culver’s Root Veranicastrum virginicum spp. Culver’s Root has largely been ignored by beekeepers and gardeners, but has Read more …


Plants you can eat are a pollinator treat

Published on May 17, 2017

If you enjoy growing cucumbers, squash, melons, and other insect pollinated crops, you already know the necessity of having some pollinator pals around. Setting aside part of your vegetable garden specifically for pollinators provides direct benefits in the form of larger, more abundant, and better formed fruits and vegetables. But even fruits and vegetables that Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Pearly Everlasting

Published on May 5, 2017

It’s National Wildflower Week! The first week in May is a time to celebrate our native wildflowers and the pollinators they support. This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Tickseed

Published on May 3, 2017

It’s National Wildflower Week! The first week in May is a time to celebrate our native wildflowers and the pollinators they support. This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Blanketflower

Published on May 2, 2017

It’s National Wildflower Week! The first week in May is a time to celebrate our native wildflowers and the pollinators they support. This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Read more …


ARS USDA image gallery

Expanding Our Understanding of Pesticide Impacts on Invertebrates

Published on April 28, 2017

In an effort to keep up with the constantly expanding information available about pesticides and their impacts on pollinators and other invertebrates, the Xerces Society created the Impacts of Pesticides on Invertebrates database (pesticideimpacts.org). The database is a collection of summaries of recent research articles; it does not include the articles themselves, but does provide Read more …


Week of Action: Watch a Film / Host a Screening

Published on April 25, 2017

Inspired by the #ScienceMarch, we’re posting a series of small actions you can take this week to further invertebrate conservation. They make you laugh, they make you cry – films provide valuable insights and inspiration. As a way of providing outreach on a subject you care about, screening a documentary can be a great entry Read more …


Every Species Needs A Voice: Speak Up!

Published on April 24, 2017

Inspired by the #ScienceMarch, we’re posting a series of small actions you can take this week to further invertebrate conservation. While you might be enamored with carpenter bees, spiders, and the American burying beetle – others might see these creatures as “pests” to be avoided, if they think of them at all. Bridging the gap Read more …


Obligate Mutualism Blooms in the Desert

Published on April 18, 2017

Tikaboo Valley, Nevada. Home of the Extraterrestrial Highway, the infamous black mailbox, UFO seekers, cattle ranchers, and desert wanderers. Nestled between three mountain ranges and notorious Area 51, Tikaboo is also home to those bizarre Mojave residents known as Joshua trees. These spiky, Dr. Seuss-like plants provide critical food, moisture, and refuge to an incredible Read more …


Science: Something Worth Marching For

Published on April 13, 2017

Science is the foundation of our work here at the Xerces Society. It underpins everything we do. From unraveling the intimate relationship between bees and flowers to understanding the lifecycle and habitat needs of rare stoneflies to working out why monarchs migrate to overwintering sites—and how they navigate there—the work of scientists has helped explain Read more …


Staff Story: The Tickle Bees of Sabin Elementary

Published on April 10, 2017

In the summer of 2009, my family and I moved into a house across from the Sabin Elementary School in Northeast Portland, Oregon. Our daughter started kindergarten at the school that fall. As other school parents learned of my work in pollinator conservation, they would occasionally ask me if I’d ever seen the “tickle bees.” Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Violets

Published on April 7, 2017

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Common Blue Violet Viola sororia Violets are often bemoaned as “weeds” when found in lawns, and otherwise impugned for Read more …


Don’t spring into garden cleanup too soon!

Published on April 4, 2017

Spring is here. A time when warmer weather naturally turns a winter-weary homeowner’s thoughts towards tackling outdoor chores. The first warm weather of the season may coax us out into the yard, but pollinators in your garden aren’t ready to take a chance on the first warm day. Chrysalides still cling to last season’s dried Read more …


Write Your Rep! Less Mowing, More Monarchs

Published on March 31, 2017

We’ve made the case that roadsides can be managed for pollinators, while maintaining erosion control, keeping roads safe, improving water quality, and saving money! Now it’s time to make the case to lawmakers, so that they can change the way their state manages roadsides for multiple benefits, including helping bees, butterflies, and other insects. We’ve Read more …


Bring Back the Pollinators: 5 Ways to Increase Nesting Habitat for Native Bees

Published on March 17, 2017

Recent research suggests that pollinators do better in urban environments, yet these mowed, mulched, and managed landscapes frequently lack a sufficient amount of nesting habitat needed to support large numbers of bees. As wild bees move off ag lands and head for the cities and suburbs, they may struggle to find their “dream home” amongst Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Little Bluestem

Published on March 15, 2017

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Little Bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium When most people plant a pollinator garden, they rarely think of native grasses, opting instead Read more …


Pollinator Conservation at 60 MPH

Published on March 12, 2017

This entry originally appeared in the January 2017 Committee on Transportation and Ecology Newsletter. Speeding down the freeway with the landscape flashing by, thoughts of pollinators may be limited to a brief glimpse of honey bee hives in an orchard, a bright patch of flowers beside the road, or an unfortunate butterfly tossed in the Read more …


Staff Stories: How I Stopped Worrying And Started Protecting Invertebrates

Published on March 10, 2017

Butterflies in their chrysalises and bumble bees in their burrows are waiting out winter—unaware of the activities of people as they wait to go about their business. They will mate. They will die. In the process, they will pollinate our foods and flowers. Freshwater mussels will keep our water clean, while spiders and beetles will Read more …


Rusty patched bumble bee deserves protection, not delay

Published on March 2, 2017

On February 10, 2017, the rusty patched bumble bee was slated to receive the federal protection it so clearly deserves. Unfortunately, the Executive Order signed by the president on Inauguration Day freezing all new regulations while the new administration reviews “questions of fact, law, and policy” has unnecessarily delayed the implementation of this rule until Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Pussy Willow

Published on March 1, 2017

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Pussy Willow Salix discolor Pussy willow is much loved by florists and decorators eager to bring some of the natural Read more …


Picking Plants for Pollinators

Published on February 23, 2017

Since the publication of our book Attracting Native Pollinators in 2011, interest in pollinators and pollinator-friendly gardening has grown substantially. Through our Bring Back the Pollinators campaign and the release of two additional books, we’ve worked hard to put information and resources in the hands of eager citizens who are inspired to protect pollinators in Read more …


Help Researchers Track Milkweeds and Monarchs across the West

Published on February 16, 2017

Monarch researchers are trying to understand why monarch overwintering populations are declining in the West, and we need your help! Overwintering monarch populations have declined by 74% in coastal California and more than 80% in central Mexico since monitoring began about 20 years ago. Researchers in the eastern U.S. have identified loss of milkweed (the Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Wild Bergamot

Published on

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Wild Bergamot   Monarda fistulosa Wild bergamot is one of several plants also known by the common name of Read more …


Plants for Pollinators: Giant Hyssop

Published on February 11, 2017

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides. Giant Blue Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Members of the mint family tend to be highly attractive to bees, and Read more …


2017 Monarch Numbers Are Down, Lengthening a Worrying Trend

Published on February 9, 2017

The number of monarch butterflies overwintering was down this winter in both coastal California and in Michoacán, Mexico, according to recent announcements by the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and World Wildlife Fund–Mexico. In California, the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count reported a total of 298,464 monarchs—a fraction of the 1.2 million reported Read more …


The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count at 20: A record volunteer effort, but disappointing butterfly numbers

Published on February 7, 2017

In the fall of 1997, a small group of dedicated monarch scientists and volunteers set out to count how many monarch butterflies were overwintering in California, an essential step in understanding and conserving this remarkable insect and its migration. Twenty years later, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) is established as one of the longest Read more …


Planting for Pollinators – In Your Backyard and Beyond

Published on

Loss of habitat is one of the biggest issues contributing to the decline of pollinators. With the loss of prairies, forests, and other natural areas to development and agricultural use, pollinators are having a harder time finding the resources they need. While a backyard butterfly garden will never be a substitute for acres of prairie, Read more …


Western Monarch Conservation: A 40 Year History

Published on February 5, 2017

It was in 1976, at the World Congress of Entomology, held in Washington. D.C., when the North American migratory monarchs were named the number one priority in world butterfly conservation. The Mexican overwintering grounds had just been located the year before, one of the greatest natural history developments of the twentieth century, and a whole Read more …


Conservation Comes Home

Published on February 3, 2017

What you can do to defend invertebrates in your community If you are reading this, chances are you are aware of the many challenges facing invertebrates. Pollinators everywhere are suffering from loss of habitat and widespread use of pesticides. Monarchs have seen record population declines in recent years. Seven species of Hawaiian yellow faced bees Read more …


Producing Wildflower Seed in the Age of Superweeds

Published on January 24, 2017

“It’s disappointing to see this problem associated with conservation seed mixes.” That’s the response from a friend and native seed producer when I mentioned the news that Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), a highly invasive noxious weed has now appeared in several states across the Midwest. The weed was possibly introduced outside of its native range Read more …


The 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year, and Other Milkweeds You Should Know

Published on January 23, 2017

Each year since 1990, the Perennial Plant Association has designated a “Perennial Plant of the Year.” The designation has become well known amongst growers, landscapers, gardeners, and others who eagerly await the announcement each year. Selection often launches the chosen plant into the mainstream, making it more widely available. While the association has often favored Read more …


Conservation Innovation Grant Studies Farming With Native Beneficial Insects

Published on January 13, 2017

Note: This article was written and published by the USDA NRCS. The original article may be downloaded here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/PA_NRCSConsumption/download?cid=nrcseprd1288409&ext=pdf The Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Read more …


Rusty Patched Bumble Bee: The First Bee in the Continental US to be Protected Under the Endangered Species Act

Published on January 11, 2017

In response to a petition from the Xerces Society, on Wednesday, January 11, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final rule to list the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, making it the first bee in the continental U.S. to be federally protected. This Read more …


New Report: How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees

Published on December 14, 2016

The plight of pollinators has grabbed the public’s attention, helped by media stories of parasites, pesticide poisonings, and deserts of urban and agricultural lands where little to no forage can be found. Most experts agree that the startling declines of native bee and butterfly populations, as well as the high annual losses of managed honey Read more …


Western Freshwater Mussels: Unobtrusive, Invaluable—and on the Red List

Published on December 9, 2016

This week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published the second update this year to the Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List is an important tool for biologists and policymakers because it highlights which species are at greatest risk of going extinct and can be used to set priorities for conservation. Read more …


To Save Monarchs, we need More than just Milkweed

Published on December 7, 2016

The message is out: Monarchs are in decline across North America. The loss of milkweed plants due to extensive herbicide use and changes in farming practices, such as the widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops, has been identified as a major contributing factor of monarch’s decline in the eastern U.S. Disease, climate change, widespread insecticide use, Read more …


$4 Million to Help Pollinator Habitat!

Published on December 1, 2016

On Wednesday, November 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and General Mills announced that they were together making a five-year, $4 million financial commitment to support the creation and protection of pollinator habitat on America’s farmlands. Thanks to this funding, the Xerces Society will add six pollinator conservation specialists, who will work jointly with the Read more …


Five lesser-known places to see monarchs overwintering in CA

Published on November 23, 2016

As the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count kicks into full swing, trained “monarch spotters” will be out and about documenting overwintering populations at hundreds of sites across California. While you may be familiar with the impressive monarch clusters, family-friendly amenities, and helpful docents at Pismo Beach, Pacific Grove, Natural Bridges, and Ardenwood Historic Farm there are many more places monarchs overwinter along the coast. Monarch enthusiasts at all levels can take pleasure in hunting down large collections of the colorful butterflies at some of these lesser-known overwintering sites.


Celebrating 20 years of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count!

Published on November 11, 2016

As the days get shorter and monarchs make their way to the forested groves along the California coast to settle in for the winter, volunteers for the Xerces Society Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count are preparing to head out to observe and monitor this migratory phenomenon. This year is particularly exciting because it marks the 20th Read more …


Putting Mussels on Your Mind

Published on October 31, 2016

While marine life and pollinators are the focus of a lot of media and conservation attention, and deservedly so, freshwater mussels in the U.S. are also in trouble – in fact, they are amongst the most at-risk animals in the U.S. More than seventy percent of all species of North American freshwater mussels are considered Read more …


Russian explorers first to document monarch butterfly in California

Published on October 28, 2016

It’s October 2016. For a few weeks monarchs have been trickling in from all over the west and aggregating in groves along the California coast to settle in for the winter. Many people have regarded this event as an annual treat, looking forward to the return of the monarchs as surely as the swallows return Read more …


Put Down Those Pruners: Pollinators Need Your ‘Garden Garbage!’

Published on October 21, 2016

It should be welcome news for weary gardeners. You’ve weeded, tilled, and toiled under the hot sun all summer long, and now — it’s time to stop. For many, however, the temptation to pick, pluck, and prune the landscape to make it neat and tidy for the winter is too hard to ignore. This impulse Read more …


Celebrate Apples by Celebrating Their Pollinators!

Published on October 7, 2016

Cut an apple in half through the middle. What do you see? Do you notice a star-shaped cluster of seeds? Those seeds are the result of the hard work done by a tiny pollinator many months ago. If there are two seeds in each of the five points, the apple was completely pollinated, meaning enough Read more …


Western Glacier Stonefly, Photo: USGS

In a rapidly warming climate, imperiled species may have nowhere to run.

Published on September 30, 2016

The western glacier stonefly (Zapada glacier) takes the real estate mantra “location, location, location” seriously. In fact, their life depends on it. Making their home in the aquatic alpine ecosystem in the highest elevations of Glacier National Park, Montana, the species is uniquely adapted to thrive in the very cold, low-oxygen, nutrient poor environment provided Read more …


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes ESA protection for the rusty patched bumble bee

Published on September 21, 2016

In 2013 the Xerces Society petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species. Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is proposing to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This is Read more …


Pollinator Conservation in Agriculture

Published on September 9, 2016

Recently, conservationists have been discussing the role of agriculture in helping pollinators—and for good reason. About half of the U.S. land base is in agriculture. If we want to truly provide for a long-term future for pollinators, we must work with farmers. Farms come in all shapes and sizes, from small, family-run operations to vast Read more …


Scanning the Horizon for Pollinator Threats and Opportunities

Published on August 9, 2016

The global fate of pollinators rests firmly in the hands of Big Ag according to research published in the journal PeerJ, which identified the most serious future threats and opportunities facing pollinating species. A horizon scan of future threats and opportunities for pollinators and pollination was authored by an international team of scientists and conservationists Read more …


Two Rare Species Spotted During Minn. Bumble Bee Survey

Published on July 31, 2016

Known to Dakota people as Oheyawahi, “the hill much visited,” Pilot Knob Hill in Mendota Heights, MN, lived up to its name when citizen scientists and eager volunteers gathered recently on the hill to hunt for some rare Minnesota species. Sarah Foltz Jordan of the Xerces Society, Elaine Evans of the University of MN Bee Read more …


Moths are cool too!

Published on July 25, 2016

Given their muted colors, erroneous reputation as pests, and the nocturnal nature of many species, most people fail to take notice of moths — let alone celebrate them. Enter National Moth Week. NMW was started by moth-minded scientists and environmentalists in 2011 as a citizen science project celebrating moths and biodiversity. “Moth-ers” of all ages Read more …


2000 Mussels Cross the Road

Published on

As two culverts are replaced to improve fish passage in Crystal Springs Creek (Westmoreland Park, Portland,  Ore.),  25 citizen-scientist volunteers and watershed specialists gathered to rescue freshwater mussels and relocate them upstream, out of the project area and out of harm’s way. Members of the Crystal Springs Partnership with guidance from the Xerces Society prepared Read more …


Monarch Butterflies in the Western United States

Published on July 20, 2016

The monarch butterfly has received a lot of attention in the last couple of years. Much of that has focused on the population that migrates through eastern North America, as far north as Ontario, and the problems facing the overwintering grounds in Mexico. Monarchs also breed in the western U.S. and research shows that they Read more …


Monarch & Milkweed Workshops Engage Public Land Managers in Western States

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The Xerces Society recently held two workshops in Washington and Idaho to train regional land managers, including staff from state fish and wildlife agencies and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in surveying for monarchs and milkweed in western states and learning about conservation of the western monarch. The workshops are a part of Read more …


Monarchs Overwintering in Coastal California Show Steep Decline Since the Late 1990s

Published on July 8, 2016

A new report, State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California, released by the Xerces Society shows that in less than two decades the number of monarchs which overwinter along the California coast declined by an alarming 74% . This significant loss of butterflies mirrors the troubling trend seen in monarchs in central Mexico Read more …


Curbing mosquito-borne illness requires strategic approach

Published on June 27, 2016

This year’s warm, wet spring seems to have brought with it more mosquitoes. With West Nile virus in Oregon and Zika slowly moving north, we have a window of opportunity to establish sound practices to manage the growing threat of mosquito-borne diseases. To wait invites an ill-conceived response that causes more harm than good. Though Read more …


Senator Merkley Unveils New Proposal to Help Restore Pollinator Populations Across the U.S.

Published on June 23, 2016

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley has unveiled a new proposal to help restore pollinator populations across America. Released during National Pollinator Week, The Pollinator Recovery Act of 2016 discussion draft will provide the public and stakeholders with the opportunity to engage in the legislative process and comment on key policy provisions in the bill. Xerces Society Read more …


Bumble Bees and Baptisia: A Pollination Story

Published on June 21, 2016

Plants use many “tricks” to entice insects into the work of pollination. The shape, color, and bloom period of a plant’s flowers can greatly influence who their potential pollinator mate may be. Such is the case when considering the relationship between bumble bees and flowers in the genus Baptisia. There are two plants of the Read more …


Farm by Farm: 150 Pollinator Habitat Projects

Published on June 20, 2016

Ensuring that pollinators and other beneficial insects have safe, high-quality habitat has been the cornerstone of the Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Program over the last two decades. Xerces has built a team of experts that work tirelessly toward this goal across a range of landscapes, including gardens, roadsides, parks, golf courses, and natural areas, but Read more …


Partnering for Pollinators

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The Xerces Society works with many partners in pollinator conservation. These partners include local, state, and federal agencies; farmers; land managers; seed companies; other conservation groups; and volunteers. We’re thankful for the support of these partnerships which make large-scale pollinator conservation efforts possible. Below is a sampling of partnership projects from the past year. Port Read more …


Helping Monarch Conservation Take Flight

Published on June 16, 2016

The Xerces Society has been a proponent of monarch butterfly conservation for decades. In the early 1980s, Xerces founder Robert Michael Pyle and Lincoln Brower worked to list the monarch migration as an endangered phenomenon with the IUCN, and the Society’s first employee was hired to conserve California overwintering sites at that time. In the Read more …


The Value of Protecting Pollinators

Published on June 9, 2016

If you’re reading this, chances are you have at least a passing interest in protecting pollinators.  Maybe you are motivated by Colony Collapse Disorder and its impact on honey bee populations. Maybe you’re a farmer who’s primary interest is in crop yields. Perhaps you’re a naturalist who is interested in the ecological benefits of pollinators. Read more …


Celebrate Pollinators!

Published on June 6, 2016

Pollinators bring us the wildflowers of spring, the berries of summer, the pumpkins we carve into jack-o’-lanterns in fall. Our dinner tables would be less enticing without them: approximately three-quarters of crop plant species need a bee or other pollinator, which translates to roughly one-third of the food and drink that we consume. More than Read more …


Xerces in Your Grocery Store: Working to Make the Food You Eat Better for Bees

Published on May 25, 2016

Over the past decade the Xerces Society has helped farmers contribute to the creation of over 250,000 acres of pollinator habitat nationwide (and to reduce pesticide use on those lands), but it has been challenging to track food produced on that cropland all the way to the plate. To better connect consumers with products that Read more …


Using Technology and Citizen Science to Understand Dragonfly Migration

Published on April 27, 2016

Given the wide geographic scope of dragonfly migration, citizen-science observations are critical to furthering knowledge of this remarkable behavior. Our understanding of the migration phenomenon in dragonflies has advanced as engagement in Migratory Dragonfly Partnership projects soar across North America. Now 1,000-strong, MDP’s volunteer network has helped reveal several insights into the behavior and seasonal Read more …


Citizen science is a wonderful thing

Published on April 21, 2016

There is much yet to be learned about insects and other invertebrates but simply not enough people observing their behavior and documenting their existence to be able to fill in the blanks of our knowledge. After all, there are tens of thousands of species to be found in each region of North America. By drawing Read more …


Island Marble Butterfly: Slipping Towards Extinction

Published on April 5, 2016

On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that the island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) is in danger of extinction but that protection under the Endangered Species Act is “precluded by higher priority listing actions.” The Service declined to grant this butterfly protection through an emergency listing process, Read more …


Helping Pollinators on the Road to Survival

Published on March 30, 2016

On Monday, March 28, the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a memo regarding the pollinator provisions in section 1415 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, and announcing the release of “Pollinators and Roadsides: Best Management Practices for Managers and Decision Makers.” The report can be read on the FHWA web site, Read more …


DeWind Awards: Investing in the future of Lepidoptera conservation

Published on March 28, 2016

The Xerces Society began as a butterfly conservation organization—hence our name—and these beautiful animals remain at the heart of who we are. We work with farmers and park managers, gardeners and agency biologists to protect butterflies and other invertebrates and ensure they have a place to live. This work has always been rooted in science, drawing Read more …


Responding to Zika virus

Published on February 25, 2016

As a parent it is heart-wrenching to see the photos of children in Brazil that have been born with microcephaly, and it is very worrying to consider that the steep rise in this birth defect may be caused by a mosquito-borne disease. The cause of these birth defects is not fully understood but they are Read more …


Research Update: Are bee diseases linked to pesticides?

Published on February 16, 2016

The issue of pesticide impacts on bees is of key interest to many people. In time, we’ll also be gathering this information onto a page on our web site. The recently published article, Are bee diseases linked to pesticides?—A brief review (Sanchez-Bayo et al. 2016), infused valuable insights into the discussion about pollinator decline. The Read more …


5 Tips for Better Insect Photography

Published on February 8, 2016

As a natural history photographer who specializes in photographing insects and other small creatures, I sometimes wonder why everyone isn’t as obsessed with the little things in life as I am. When I peer through my camera’s viewfinder and look into the eyes of a jumping spider, or marvel at the amazing structure of a Read more …


Butterflies and Volunteers: The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count

Published on February 4, 2016

The final results from the Xerces Society’s annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count have just been released, and the numbers are promising. Volunteers visited 187 sites this year and counted 271,924 monarchs, which is higher than last year. However, the average number of monarchs per site is not significantly different from last year, and this year’s Read more …


EPA’s Preliminary Risk Assessment for the Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Imidacloprid

Published on January 7, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, which shows a threat to some pollinators. The EPA’s assessment indicates that the highly toxic, long-lived neonicotinoid imidacloprid “potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators…” While we Read more …


Surprises in the Field: Discovering a New Population of a Bog-Associated Butterfly

Published on December 22, 2015

One of the greatest thrills of fieldwork is finding an unexpected or undescribed species at a field site. As a conservation biologist who studies invertebrates, I probably get more than my fair share of new encounters. The numbers are certainly in my favor: invertebrates make up over 90 percent of all known animal species on Read more …


A First Glimpse at the State of Western Monarchs

Published on December 14, 2015

Throughout this last summer, people from across the western United States were telling us about monarchs they had seen. Particularly notable were the reports from places where monarchs are not usually seen, including Oregon’s Willamette Valley and even here in Portland. Coming at a time when there is a renewed interest in this remarkable long-distance Read more …


The Crystal Skipper: North Carolina’s Newest Butterfly Species

Published on December 3, 2015

The beautiful beaches of the central North Carolina coast, known as the Crystal Coast in tourist brochures, are well known to beachgoers, birdwatchers, and shell hunters. Less well known is a small brown butterfly living amongst the sand dunes which, until last week, had no official name; it has now been formally described in the Read more …


The Value of Science

Published on December 1, 2015

Science is the foundation of our work here at the Xerces Society. It underpins everything we do. We undertake applied research to determine the extent of decline for bumble bees, freshwater mussels, butterflies, and many other invertebrates. We work with landowners and land management agencies to determine where at-risk species occur, so we can target Read more …


Rethinking Pesticides

Published on November 24, 2015

This post was originally published in the fall 2015 issue of Wings. Essays on Invertebrate Conservation, the Xerces Society’s membership magazine. Pesticides have been used to control insects for millennia. We know that the ancient Romans burned sulfur to kill insect pests; centuries later, in the 1600s, people were using a mixture of honey and Read more …


Study Finds High Levels of Pesticides in Wild Bees Foraging in Farmland

Published on November 18, 2015

For bees living in and around farmland, pesticides are a daily hazard. The risk is widely recognized and much effort has been put into assessing the impacts on honey bees, the workhorse of much crop pollination. However, there has been very little research into the impact of pesticides on the thousands of species of native Read more …


All Aboard the Monarch Express

Published on November 13, 2015

Of all the butterflies in North America, the monarch can probably claim the largest fan club. Over recent decades, love for the monarch spawned a network of loyal enthusiasts growing milkweed and creating backyard oases across the country. Despite this, years of declining populations in both the eastern and western U.S. led to a petition Read more …