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Conservation

Despite concerns about potential population declines, fireflies have received relatively little conservation attention. You can help initiate this important conversation by advocating for fireflies in your community, participating in community science projects that track their distributions, and taking steps at home to turn out your lights at night and identify, protect, and restore high-quality firefly habitat.
Here at Xerces, we are tackling firefly conservation on all fronts—by focusing on species whose life history traits make them more vulnerable to extinction, but also working to keep common species common. Learn more about key species as well as our work to support their conservation.
Fireflies are best known for their showy nighttime displays, but not all fireflies flash at night. The common name “firefly” not only includes familiar flashing species (a.k.a. lightning bugs), but also the more cryptic glow-worms and daytime dark fireflies. Learn more about the fascinating diversity of species that make up the family Lampyridae.

Recommended Citation: Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Xerces) and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Mussel Project (CTUIR). [Year Accessed]. Western Freshwater Mussel Database. Available at https://www.xerces.org/endangered-species/freshwater-mussels/database. List of contributors available at: https://xerces.org/endangered-species/freshwater-mussels/database/contributors.

Have you observed freshwater mussels in western North America? Are you looking for information on western freshwater mussel distribution or occurrence in your area? The Xerces Society and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have compiled a database of occurrence records to support research and conservation of freshwater mussels. 

Resources to aid in the planning, establishment, restoration, and maintenance of pollinator habitat.

The Xerces Society produces dozens of publications each year to share the latest science-based conservation information; guide conservation efforts; and support farmers, gardeners, and other invertebrate enthusiasts in creating healthy habitat for the "little things that run the world."

The pollinator resources found on this page support habitat restoration throughout the mainland United States and Canada.

To ensure healthy ecosystems, the Xerces Society’s endangered species team conserves at-risk species and their habitats through research, advocacy, education, conservation planning, and restoration. Our team of conservation biologists holds degrees in entomology, ecology, biology, and environmental science, and has decades of experience working with rare and at-risk terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. We share a passion for conserving invertebrates that are imperiled with extinction.
 

Beetles comprise the most diverse group of organisms in the world. Approximately one of every four species (including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi) that has been described is a type of beetle. As might be expected in such a large group, beetles are quite diverse in color, shape, and ecological role.

Thus far, most of the Xerces Society’s conservation work on beetles has focused on fireflies and tiger beetles:

Bees are undoubtedly the most abundant pollinators of flowering plants in our environment. The service that bees and other pollinators provide allows nearly 70% of all flowering plants to reproduce; the fruits and seeds from insect pollinated plants account for over 30% of the foods and beverages that humans consume.

Bees are the most important group of pollinators. With the exception of a few species of wasps, only bees deliberately gather pollen to bring back to their nests for their offspring. Bees also exhibit a behavior called flower constancy, meaning that they repeatedly visit one particular plant species on any given foraging trip. 

What is the annual timeline for the DeWind award?

The proposal period is open for approximately two months each year, from the beginning of November to the end of December. Proposals are usually due by December 31. The DeWind committee will then assess each proposal and assign scores, which are used to arrive at a final decision. Decisions are made no later than March 31, with awards usually paid out by the end of May. All applicants will be notified of the results by email. For this year's timeline, please see the main DeWind page.

From the iconic monarch butterfly to lesser-known butterflies, many species that were once-common are threatened due to factors ranging from habitat loss to climate change. The Xerces Society conserves lepidoptera by developing technical guidance for land managers with state and federal agencies, monitoring at-risk species, and advocating for protection of the most imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act and state- and regional- lists.
Freshwater mussels are the animals you never knew you couldn’t live without. Like pollinators, freshwater mussels provide vital services that underpin entire ecosystems, but unlike butterflies and bumblebees, these animals are not showy. In fact, they aren’t often even noticeable, hidden below the water’s surface and tucked in among the rocks, mud, or sand. But below the surface, these creatures are far more fascinating than a first glance might suggest.

All bumble bees belong to the genus Bombus within the family Apidae. The family Apidae includes the well-known honey bees and bumble bees, as well as carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, digger bees, stingless bees, and orchid bees. Bumble bees are important pollinators of wild flowering plants and crops. As generalist foragers, they do not depend on any one flower type. However, some plants do rely on bumble bees to achieve pollination. Loss of bumble bees can have far ranging ecological impacts due to their role as pollinators.

Our roads and highways present unique opportunities for creating corridors to support monarchs and other pollinators. In some areas, roadsides may be the only places where milkweed and nectar plants may be available. When managed with pollinators in mind, roadsides have the potential to add miles and miles of high-quality habitat while reducing maintenance costs. Learn more about how roadsides can be managed to reduce costs and protect pollinators.

To conserve monarchs and their habitat Xerces works with farmers and farm agency staff to install high-quality habitat for pollinators, enhance and manage existing habitat, and protect habitat from pesticide exposure. We have partner biologists and conservation planners across the eastern US who are working with farmers and ranchers to provide technical assistance on restoration, enhancement, and management projects for pollinators – including monarchs.
Many of our natural areas – including wildlife refuges, rangelands, national forests and grasslands, rights of ways, as well as parks and other open spaces in towns and cities provide habitat for monarch butterflies to eat, lay eggs, and take shelter. The Xerces Society has developed a variety of tools for managers of natural areas to facilitate managing and enhancing habitat for monarch butterflies.
Monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains used to number in the hundreds of millions but the population has declined by over 80%. Loss of habitat due to genetically modified crops, overuse of insecticides, and urban, suburban and agricultural development, are the leading causes of monarch decline. The Xerces Society is working with farmers, ranchers, park and natural areas managers and gardeners across the eastern US to plant milkweed and nectar plants needed for monarch’s survival.
While the Xerces Society engages in monarch conservation efforts across North America, partnering with leaders in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada - a significant amount of our work focuses on monarch populations in western states, where overwintering populations have declined by 97% since the 1980s.

An epic migration, on the verge of collapse.  

In the 1990s, nearly 700 million monarchs made the epic flight each fall from the northern plains of the U.S. and Canada to sites in the oyamel fir forests north of Mexico City, and more than one million monarchs overwintered in forested groves on the California Coast.

A crucial step towards protecting invertebrates is to identify the species in greatest need of conservation attention⁠—a process that requires the methodical collection of data, and then spreading the word to raise awareness about their plights. To that end, we are producing detailed species profiles for a variety of invertebrate groups, which can be found here. Click on a species group below to begin learning about the vital creatures that Xerces is working to protect!

Beetles are in the order Coleoptera and represent the greatest diversity of any group of animals. There are more than 340,000 described species worldwide, including nearly 30,000 species in North America alone making it the largest order of insects. Beetles are distinguished from other insect groups by a pair of forewings that are usually hard and rigid, are never used for flight, and serve as a protective covering for the delicate flight wings and the upper surface of the abdomen.  

Because they are essential pollinators, loss of bumble bees can have far ranging ecological consequences. Alarmingly, recent work by the Xerces Society in concert with IUCN Bumble Bee Specialist Group, indicates that some species have experienced rapid and dramatic declines more than others. While some species have received considerable conservation attention, other species such as the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee and the variable cuckoo bumble bee have been largely overlooked.
As urban and suburban areas expand, greenspaces such as parks, golf courses, and landscaped campuses are increasingly precious. Healthy parks foster healthy human and animal communities alike. Pollinator conservation is perfectly suited for urban greenspaces. The basic habitat needs for pollinator insects are simple to provide and can be integrated into the current maintenance of any green infrastucture.

Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are the required host plants for caterpillars of the monarch butterfly and thus play a critical role in the monarch’s life cycle. The loss of milkweed plants in the monarch’s spring and summer breeding areas across the United States is believed to be a significant factor contributing to the reduced number of monarchs recorded in overwintering sites in California and Mexico.

The Xerces Society partners with the native seed industry to produce wildflower seed mixes meeting Xerces specifications, to provide foraging and nesting resources for a diversity of pollinators. For details about species composition, recommended seeding rate, and how to contact the producer, please download the specification sheet for each seed mix.

Monarchs are in decline across their range in North America. Loss of milkweed host plants due to extensive herbicide use has been identified as a major contributing factor, and loss or degradation of nectar-rich habitat from other causes, natural disease and predation, climate change, and widespread insecticide use are probably also contributing to declines.

Successful pollinator habitat provides resources for the entire life-cycle. While pollen and nectar sources support adult bees and butterflies, you need to also provide adequate nesting habitat if you want pollinators to live in your landscape rather than just pass through. There are many ways to provide nesting resources through natural and man-made features or simply by changing land management practices. Below is an overview of the nesting needs of bees and butterflies.

Neonicotinoid insecticides are now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. While they were initially introduced as less harmful than older insecticides, research has now shown their devastating ecological impacts. Neonicotinoids are very toxic to pollinators, beneficial insects, and aquatic invertebrates. Their widespread use, combined with their water solubility, means that they are now often found in water and soil samples throughout the country. The Xerces Society is working to reduce the use of neonicotinoids in both agricultural and urban areas.