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 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; firstname.lastname@example.org, (971) 533-7245 Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director; email@example.com, (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 …
Record Low Number of Overwintering Monarch Butterflies in California—They Need Your Help!
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.
Pollinators and the 2018 Farm Bill
Published on January 10, 2019
Although we did not get everything we wanted in the 2018 Farm Bill, the very good news is that pollinators are still a priority for the USDA and the Natural Resource Conservation Service—and formal commitments to support conservation efforts are now in effect for at least the next five years.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – December 2018
Published on December 17, 2018
December’s featured staff hail from Iowa and Minnesota, and have been making significant impacts in their respective states by educating farmers and other members of the public, helping to restore and build new habitat, and pushing for policies that support pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Are Freshwater Mussels in Hot Water?
Published on December 13, 2018
Conservation efforts for freshwater mussels, already challenging because of the demands upon fresh water from farming, industry, and human settlements, must now also contend with the threats posed by the warming climate. The impacts will result both from the changing environment and from our response to those changes, including our choices for managing water bodies and associated habitat.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – November 2018
Published on December 3, 2018
November’s featured staff hail from Minnesota, Indiana, and California, and have been conducting training and outreach events, helping General Mills to implement their plan to plant 3,300 acres of pollinator habitat, and monitoring farm habitat plantings in the San Joaquin Valley.
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.
Western Monarch Numbers Expected to Be Low this Year
Published on November 15, 2018
You may be asking “What can I do to help the monarch?” Besides protecting habitat, avoiding pesticide use, and planting gardens, another way is to contribute monarch and milkweed data to Xerces-led citizen science efforts—namely, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper.
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.
Fall Garden Tips to Benefit Bumble Bees All Year
Published on October 30, 2018
The growing season may be winding down, but fall is an important time to create habitat for bumble bees and other native pollinators. The work you do now will help support overwintering pollinators and support the next generation of bumble bees.
Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – October 2018
Published on October 23, 2018
Select updates from our team of restoration ecologists, entomologists, plant ecologists, and researchers.
Reflections and Exhortations on the Anniversary of the Clean Water Act
Published on October 18, 2018
Although the future of our nation’s water is currently murky, we still have time to make things right. We have the past successes of the environmental movement for inspiration, and the research and recommendations of hundreds of modern scientists to strive towards.
The Xerces Society Seeks Endangered Species Protections for California Bumble Bees
Published on October 16, 2018
Protecting these species is not only the right thing to do; it will also help to maintain the healthy ecosystems that make California such a remarkable and productive state.
Celebrating the Legacy of Rachel Carson
Published on September 27, 2018
The environmental complexities Rachel Carson illuminated in Silent Spring are only part of her far-reaching impact. Her raw determination, even in the face of severe illness, and her propensity for breaking barriers, provide a compelling example for environmentalists. May we all continue the fight for the well-being of invertebrates, ecosystems, and our world.
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 …
Connecticut’s Sandplains Need Protection
Published on May 11, 2018
Sandplains are one of New England’s rarest ecosystems. Areas of dry sandy soil left by glacial outwash, sandplains support sparse vegetation and bare ground. At first glance, a sandplain looks like a scruffy wasteland, hardly something worth standing up for—and typically, no one has. Sandplains have been subjected to mining, development, and fragmentation resulting in Read more …
Unblinded by Science
Published on April 13, 2018
The Xerces Society has become well-known for our publications, trainings, and for the acres of habitat we’ve worked to protect and restore. What is often less visible is the scientific work our staff are engaged in which underpins these efforts. More than two-thirds of our staff are scientists with diverse backgrounds and expertise, who are Read more …
Meet Indiana’s Official State Insect
Published on March 26, 2018
What began as a geography lesson for students of Maggie Samudio’s second grade class at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette, Indiana, took a detour to subjects of entomology, politics, and perseverance. After four years of lobbying, letter writing, and campaigning, Say’s firefly has become Indiana’s first state insect. Four years ago Kayla Xu made Read more …
Going Beyond the Bloom: Don’t Be Just A Flower-Weather Friend
Published on November 10, 2017
As cooler temperatures sweep across the Northeast, it can be easy to put thoughts of blooms, bees, and butterflies to bed until next spring. I think we can agree that many of us reserve visits to meadows, gardens, and other flower-rich habitats for warm, sunny days, so we can enjoy the diversity and beauty of Read more …
New Research Confirms Decline in Western Freshwater Mussels
Published on October 27, 2017
When we talk about native freshwater mussels (not the invasive zebra mussels you’ve heard so much about), we often start by mentioning how obscure they are, that they look like rocks and live in places where they go largely unseen. It’s true that freshwater mussels aren’t as showy as butterflies, or as celebrated as bees, Read more …
Leave the Leaves!
Published on October 6, 2017
Besides providing the right plants, and protecting your garden from pesticides, one of the next most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need in the the form of fall leaves and standing dead plant material. Frequently however, this is the hardest Read more …
Post-Brexit Britain Grapples with the EU Moratorium on Neonicotinoids
Published on September 28, 2017
This article, written by Dave Goulson, originally appeared in our Spring 2017 issue of Wings Magazine. In 2013, the European Commission acted to protect bees by restricting the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides within the twenty-eight countries of the European Union. This wasn’t a complete ban on their use—it covered seed treatments only of certain Read more …
New Fact Sheet Highlights Risks to California’s Surface Water from Insecticides
Published on August 22, 2017
Neonicotinoids, a widely used class of systemic insecticides, have received lots of attention in recent years with research demonstrating a variety of lethal and sub-lethal impacts on bees and on other beneficial insects. There is also evidence of the effects of neonicotinoids on aquatic systems, with a growing number of studies showing impacts in prairie Read more …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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
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 …
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 …
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
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
Pausing to Catch our Breath, Updates From Our 2015 Staff Retreat
Published on October 28, 2015
One of the most striking things about our recent staff retreat was the number of people in the room — indeed, the size of the room we needed. We now have 40 people on staff. Looking back to when I first started working at Xerces, when there was a staff of four, this seems an Read more …
Releasing Monarch Butterflies is Not a Good Conservation Strategy
Published on October 8, 2015
Breeding and releasing monarch butterflies might seem like a harmless activity, something that might even help struggling populations. Unfortunately, the practice holds the potential to actually harm wild monarchs and disrupt research that is critical to their conservation. Demonstrating the breadth of concern that exists over this practice, the Xerces Society has joined with the Read more …
ID Dragonflies and Locate Hotspots: Introducing the New Dragonfly ID App!
Published on October 3, 2015
Calling all nature enthusiasts! Do you have a smartphone and want to use it to explore, identify, and marvel at the diversity of dragonfly and damselfly fauna in your backyard, local wetland, or favorite trout stream? Well, now you can! We are pleased to introduce Dragonfly ID, a first-of-its-kind app brought to you by the Read more …
Hawai‘ian Yellow-Faced Bees: The First U.S. Bees Proposed for ESA Protection
Published on September 30, 2015
This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Hawai‘i with my family. What a wonderful vacation! Beautiful beaches, kayaking, sea turtles, fresh pineapple, fabulous tropical gardens, volcanoes—but I also went in hunt of bees. I found bees in the gardens of the first place we stayed. But the carpenter bees and honey bees were not Read more …
Xerces Goes Island Hopping for Bees
Published on September 24, 2015
How do you restore a 50-acre native wildflower meadow for bees on an island in the middle of the Columbia River? It’s simple. Working with the Port of Portland, and seed company Pacific Northwest Natives, we loaded up a barge with a tractor, a truck, a drill seeder, hundreds of pounds of seed, and half Read more …
Good News for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
Published on September 21, 2015
Friday was a good day for the rusty patched bumble bee. After decades of declining populations and a nearly 90% contraction in range, it was given a glimmer of hope for a future: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a positive 90-day finding in response to an Endangered Species Act petition requesting listed as Read more …
Red Listing North America’s bumblebees
Published on July 22, 2015
This blog was originally posted on the IUCN Red List’s website This spring has been busy for bumblebee conservation in North America. Over the last several months I have been working with other IUCN SSC Bumblebee Specialist Group members to complete the IUCN Red List assessments of all North American bumblebees. In April, I also Read more …
Climate Change Driving, Not the Only Passenger; Bumble Bee Conservation in Context
Published on July 16, 2015
On Thursday July 9, 2015, a paper about the effects of climate change on bumble bee ranges was published in the journal Science by Dr. Jeremy Kerr and several colleagues. This is an impressive body of research and does much to further our understanding of landscape-scale effects on insects. Understandably, this research has garnered a Read more …
How Farmers Are Doing Their Part to Bring Back the Pollinators: A California Case Study
Published on June 27, 2015
It all started with a question: What can large-scale food production and labeling operations do to help pollinators? The Importance of Habitat There are a lot of ways for all of us to help bees, but farmers are in a unique position to make a huge impact. There are over 100 pollinator-dependent crops grown in Read more …
Pollinator Conservation Crosses a National Threshold
Published on June 4, 2015
The newly released National Strategy to Protect Pollinators and Their Habitat represents a threshold moment in pollinator conservation. Two decades ago, the issue was barely discussed. When Xerces staff attended a national meeting of the pioneering organizations in 1996, it could be held around a single conference table. Ten years ago, interest had grown and 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 …
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