Butterflies


Karner blue butterfly

Insects Lose as Trump Administration Weakens the Endangered Species Act

Published on August 29, 2019

Who really wants to live in and pass on a world without a diversity of butterflies to fill the sky, bees to pollinate our food and flowers, and fireflies to light up the night? Clearly, those who wrote and support these new rules think that is an acceptable future.


A female harvester butterfly ovipositing by an aphid colony. Her body is arced, so that the back end of her body is touching the pale green vine she is perched on. There are many gray aphids on the vine near her.

Fun with Harvester Butterflies, Part Two

Published on August 21, 2019

Recently, photographer Bryan E. Reynolds earned a long-sought set of photos of the elusive harvester butterfly, North America’s only carnivorous butterfly.


Monarch - Xerces Society

Working to Conserve Monarchs from Coast to Coast

Published on June 21, 2019

The migration of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) is an awe-inspiring sight that heralds the changing seasons across much of North America. Sadly, these inspiring migrations have experienced significant declines in the past few decades. The Xerces Society is working across the U.S. to conserve this beloved species, and there are a number of ways you can help!


Ashland, Oregon - Bee City USA

Bee City USA: Galvanizing Communities to Reverse Pollinator Decline

Published on June 17, 2019

It is imperative that we change our idea of a desirable landscape away from one of large green lawns treated with chemicals and bordered by predominantly exotic plants to one of a diversity of native plants free of pesticides. This effort takes place one person, one neighborhood, and one community at a time, and the most successful affiliates recognize that becoming a Bee City is not a short-term commitment.


Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat sign

Bring Back the Pollinators During National Pollinator Week

Published on

Celebrate Pollinator Week by committing to bring back the pollinators! Our Bring Back the Pollinators campaign is based on the fact that pollinators need only a few things, which anyone can provide in a remarkably small space: flowers from which to drink nectar and gather pollen, a place to lay eggs or build a nest, and freedom from pesticides.


Long-horned bee

Bee City USA Mobilizes Communities to Support Imperiled Pollinators—Here’s How to Join

Published on April 26, 2019

Earth Week is an inspiring time, brimming with opportunities to make a difference in the days following Earth Day—and beyond. If you want to mobilize your city or county to make room for pollinators, then the Xerces Society’s initiative, Bee City USA, may have the formula you need. Bee City USA founder Phyllis Stiles explains how to get your community certified.


Earth Week - Xerces Society

Pledge to Bring Back the Pollinators—on Earth Day and Every Day

Published on April 22, 2019

During Earth Week 2019, we are asking you to consider taking simple, yet impactful, steps to make the world better for bees, butterflies, and other essential invertebrates.


Announcing the 2019 DeWind Awardees

Published on April 3, 2019

The Xerces Society is happy to announce the 2019 Dewind awardees: Niranjana Krishnan, a PhD candidate at Iowa State University, and Molly Wiebush, a master’s student at Florida State University.


Community Scientists Can Help Support Imperiled Western Monarchs

Published on March 12, 2019

We encourage everyone to take some time while hiking in the California coast range, California Central Valley, and the rest of the West, to help researchers by submitting any and all monarch and milkweed observations this year to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper website.


Mexico monarchs

Photo Essay: Trinational Monarch Meeting and Exploring Mexico’s Monarch Overwintering Sites

Published on March 7, 2019

Xerces Society Endangered Species Conservation Biologist and Western Monarch Lead Emma Pelton recounts her recent experience in Mexico with this photo essay.


Quino checkerspot butterfly

National Butterfly Center Gets Reprieve—But Border Wall Will Impact Much More

Published on February 15, 2019

There are many reasons to oppose the wall along the southern border—including the loss of habitat for some of our smallest and most important animals.


New Year’s Count of Western Monarchs Confirms Decline, Trends Seen in Previous Years

Published on February 5, 2019

Overall, the count data revealed an average decrease of 38% between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s counts.


Monarch overwintering in California

Monarch Butterflies in Western North America in Jeopardy

Published on January 17, 2019

Population of monarchs overwintering in California at lowest level ever recorded Media Contacts: Emma Pelton, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist; [email protected], (971) 533-7245 Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director; [email protected], (971) 244-3727 PORTLAND, Ore.; Thursday, 1/17/19—The population of monarch butterflies overwintering in California has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. Surveys done by volunteers with Read more …


Monarch overwintering in California

Record Low Number of Overwintering Monarch Butterflies in California—They Need Your Help!

Published on

We urge you to join us and our colleagues in the western monarch science and conservation community in taking meaningful, swift action to help save western monarchs.


Where Do Pollinators Go in the Winter?

Published on December 10, 2018

As the leaves and temperatures drop, it might be tempting to forget about your pollinator garden until spring. But don’t call it quits just yet! While it may seem like the bees have vanished for the year, they haven’t actually gone anywhere.


Monarch overwintering in California

Early Thanksgiving Counts Show a Critically Low Monarch Population in California

Published on November 29, 2018

The California overwintering population has been reduced to less than 0.5% of its historical size, and has declined by 86% compared to 2017. While western monarchs are facing unprecedented challenges right now, there is still hope that we can recover the population if we work quickly, strategically, and together.


A Shifting Climate Creates Winners and Losers

Published on November 27, 2018

To mitigate the impacts of climate change we need to increase the amount of high-quality and resilient habitat everywhere. Natural areas are the glue that holds all other habitat together, but for insects even small patches in connected networks within agricultural, suburban, urban, and other landscapes can be beneficial. Whether you are a gardener, a farmer, or the manager of a park or nature reserve, you can take action to protect and restore habitat. Xerces has resources to help on our website.


Swallowtail butterfly

The Striking Beauty of Oklahoma’s Butterflies

Published on November 9, 2018

Oklahoma’s impressive butterfly fauna of more than 170 species includes the nation’s largest (the giant swallowtail) and the smallest (the western pygmy blue), and representatives of all six major butterfly families: Papilionidae (swallowtails), Pieridae (whites and sulphurs), Lycaenidae (gossamerwings), Hesperiidae (skippers), Riodinidae (metalmarks), and Nymphalidae (brush-foots).


Adonis Blue Butterfly

Ups and Downs of English Chalk Grasslands

Published on November 1, 2018

About a third of Britain’s sixty resident butterfly species may be encountered on chalk grasslands, including small skipper, green hairstreak, small copper, meadow brown, Duke of Burgundy, and marbled white, but it is a handful of blues—common, chalkhill, small, and Adonis—that may be most characteristic of this habitat.


Viceroy and Red-spotted Purple hybrid, Limenitis archippus archippus X

My First Hybrid: Limenitis archippus archippus × Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Published on October 25, 2018

Recently, photographer Bryan E. Reynolds encountered a rare hybrid of two of his favorite butterfly species—a well-deserved sighting for a passionate lepidopterist!


Squash bee (Xenoglossa)

Can Robobees Solve the Pollination Crisis?

Published on September 17, 2018

The problem is more complex than just crops. At least 85 percent of all terrestrial plant species either require or strongly benefit from some form of animal pollination, and the idea of robotic pollinators ignores the many wild plants in meadows, prairies, hedgerows, and forests. Focusing solely on crop pollination and failing to take the pollination of native plants into account may well lead to a deterioration in the plant communities that make up the very fabric of our environment.


Keep Monarchs Wild!

Published on September 11, 2018

Instead of rearing—which is risky and unproven in helping monarchs—we should focus on more effective ways to conserve these glorious wild animals. Our tactics should address the reasons the species is in trouble to begin with. We can do this through taking action to protect natural habitat; to plant native milkweed and flowers; avoid pesticides; support wildlife-friendly, local, and organic agriculture; contribute to research efforts via citizen science; and organize ourselves to push for policy changes.


The Endangered Species Act needs your help!

Published on August 29, 2018

We need your voice to help defend one of our most important wildlife protection laws. Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been at the forefront of species protection, placing the United States as a world leader in science-based conservation. The ESA is our nation’s most effective law for protecting animals and plants in Read more …


Fun with Harvesters

Published on November 1, 2017

This story was contributed by Bryan Reynolds, photographer and Xerces supporter In September, I visited the town of Norman, close to where I live in Oklahoma, to give a photography workshop to a group of botanists from the University of Oklahoma. The workshop was held in Saxon Park, a small park that has running/walking trails through 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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


Help Protect Our Beloved Butterflies

Published on May 29, 2015

Monarch butterflies are among North America’s most loved species. Growing up in Nebraska, I remember seeing thousands of these butterflies visiting fields of wildflowers; I know that many of you grew up with similar experiences. Unfortunately, our children and grandchildren may not have the same opportunity to witness the beauty of monarchs flying across native Read more …