Fender’s blue is a small butterfly with a wingspan of approximately 1 inch. The color of upper wings differentiates males (bright blue) and females (copper to brown). Photo Credit: Carolyn Menke

AnimalsEnvironment United States 4. January 2023

Delicate Butterfly Is Flapping Towards Historic Recovery

The Fender’s Blue Butterfly – endemic to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, United States – was once thought to be extinct. Today, the species is growing.

Fender’s Blue was first collected in 1929 but was not seen again until 1988. In the year 2000, Fender’s Blue was officially added to the endangered species list. Yet, thanks to conservation efforts, today the population has quadrupled and the species is likely to be downgraded to “threatened” later this year. If the change does occur, Fender’s Blue will become the second insect to have recovered in the history of the Endangered Species Act.

The butterflies in the Willamette Valley actively rely on humans for their survival. The valley must be regularly mowed, sprayed, or burned to protect the butterflies’ environment from encroaching species that would otherwise take over. This intrinsic relationship between humans and butterflies in the region goes to show that human conservation efforts are crucial for the survival of many delicate species, including the Fender’s Blue.

High Country News

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