Endangered Species


Fireflies and star trails

Celebrate World Firefly Day by Keeping Nights Dark

Published on July 5, 2019

Fireflies are some of our most well-loved insects—yet their numbers appear to be dwindling. One likely driver for this decline is light pollution. Put simply, fireflies need dark nights. This is the theme of this year’s World Firefly Day; read on for information on how to support the conservation of these beloved beetles!


Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat Sign

Let’s Make Every Week Pollinator Week!

Published on June 23, 2019

Without a doubt, every week is Pollinator Week here at the Xerces Society. Our staff are consistently working with farmers, public land managers, suburban park managers, and gardeners, providing guidance on planning and creating habitat. Here are a variety of ways to support our efforts to conserve these vital invertebrates throughout the year—no matter where you live!


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!


Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis)

Introducing Xerces’ Newest Community Science Project: Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas

Published on June 18, 2019

To help further our understanding of, and conservation efforts for, bumble bees, the Xerces Society has launched the Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas. This community science project offers locals the opportunity to work alongside researchers to collect data that will shed light on the distribution, status, and habitat needs of Nebraska’s bumble bees.


New iNaturalist Project Makes it Easier to Submit Data to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper

Published on June 7, 2019

Now you can submit data to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper using the iNaturalist app on a smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android are both supported). This new way of submitting data makes it easier to share photos and locality data—and we need all hands on deck this season, to better understand the hurdles facing the imperiled western monarch population!


Monarch and golden soldier beetle on thistle

Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – May 2019

Published on May 30, 2019

May’s featured staff share stories of building pollinator habitat that will also support monarchs—one project on a farm in Iowa, and the other in a park in Missouri.


Firefly jar

Taking a Stand for Firefly Species Facing Extinction

Published on May 15, 2019

The Xerces Society and the Center for Biological Diversity have submitted a joint petition for the emergency listing of the Bethany Beach firefly (Photuris bethaniensis)—with a request for the concurrent designation of critical habitat—under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).


Rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis)

Five Ways Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Bumble Bee Recovery & Conservation Initiatives are Benefitting from the Success of Bumble Bee Watch

Published on May 2, 2019

Since its launch in 2014, and thanks to its growing popularity each year, Bumble Bee Watch has generated an enormous dataset devoted to cataloging North America’s bumble bee fauna, and the information it contains has enabled us to tackle important questions in bumble bee ecology.


How to Support Monarch Butterfly Conservation—During Earth Week and Beyond!

Published on April 27, 2019

Helping the monarch back to full health isn’t going to be easy or quick, but we can’t stand by and do nothing. If we all plant a small patch of milkweed and nectar plants, and all think about how we can change our actions to make things better for monarchs, together we can transform the landscape to allow the monarch to rebound—and give our children the gift of watching orange wings flap in the sunshine.


Honoring Robbin Thorp, a Legendary Figure in North American Bee Conservation

Published on April 24, 2019

Robbin Thorp, Professor Emeritus at University of California–Davis, has made lasting contributions to the bee conservation community in ways that might never be measured, but will certainly be felt. As such, it is fitting to recognize this living legend of North American bumble bee conservation during Earth Week.


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.


Yellow Banded Bumble Bee

Pollinator Conservation Program Digest – January 2019

Published on January 28, 2019

January’s featured staff have been working on establishing pollinator habitat with a multi-year hedgerow project in California’s Central Valley; and, in Maine, collaborating with a diverse array of partners and stakeholders to both facilitate habitat restoration for native bees and navigate the ins and outs of the Endangered Species Act.


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; emma.pelton@xerces.org, (971) 533-7245 Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director; sarina.jepsen@xerces.org, (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.


Long horned bee on plains coreopsis

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.


Xerces Society habitat planting in California's Central Valley

Climate News Round-Up: January 2019

Published on January 3, 2019

Climate change is an unprecedented global challenge. The magnitude of the problem and the consequences of inaction can be overwhelming, but there is still time to act. While the federal government is rolling back some of the progress that has been made in reducing carbon emissions, many cities, states, and businesses around the country remain committed to climate action. We can build on this momentum and support further action.


Pollinator habitat at a Tree Top Grower's orchard

Businesses Aligning with the Life that Sustains Us

Published on December 20, 2018

The trend of business owners aligning with social and environmental causes is on the rise. Here at the Xerces Society, we are feeling these benefits—and are very thankful for the support.


Freshwater mussel

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.


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.


Monarch flying over showy milkweed, Oregon

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.


Western Bumble Bee

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.


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 …


Newly released monarch overwintering site management plan provides blueprint for protecting and managing monarch groves

Published on March 2, 2018

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Groundswell Coastal Ecology, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have developed a western monarch butterfly overwintering site management plan that also serves as a template for land managers at other overwintering sites. The Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Site Management Plan for Lighthouse Field Read more …


Searching for Skippers on Oregon’s Wild Southwest Coast

Published on October 18, 2017

The Southern Oregon coast is a wild place. Situated at the convergence of the Coast Range and the Klamath-Siskiyous, this corner of the state is widely regarded as one of the country’s biodiversity hotspots. Puffin-dotted sea stacks and agate beaches quickly give way to a tangle of madrone, hemlock, and oak marching upward into thick 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 …


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 …


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 …


Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Protected as an Endangered Species

Published on January 10, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Sarina Jepsen, Director of Endangered Species Program, Xerces; (971) 244-3727; sarina@xerces.org Rich Hatfield, Senior Conservation Biologist, Xerces; (503) 468-8405; rich@xerces.org Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Protected as an Endangered Species First bee in the continental U.S. is listed under the Endangered Species Act PORTLAND, Ore., January 10, 2017—Responding to a petition from 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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


2000 Mussels Cross the Road

Published on July 25, 2016

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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …