The Fender’s blue butterfly is making a comeback, and it’s saving a flower in the process.
Conservationists have been working to save the butterfly species and thanks to their efforts, a rare lupine now has a second chance at survival as well.
According to The Nature Conservancy, “recent studies have shown a drastic decline in the populations of many insect species.” Unfortunately, conservation efforts to restore insect populations have been largely unsuccessful – until now.
According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Fender’s blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi) once flew majestically around the Willamette Valley of Oregon but was thought to be extinct by 1937 when it was observed for the last time in decades.
However, a small glimmer of hope came for the species when it was rediscovered in 1989. Conservationists naturally wanted to do all that they could to bring the species back from the brink of extinction, but they faced a looming problem. An estimated 99 percent of the native prairie that the butterfly once thrived in had been decimated.
Though conservationists couldn’t bring the prairie back to what it once was, they could help the butterfly species by bringing back a specific flower: the rare Kincaid’s lupine, a perennial wildflower that once attracted thousands of Fender’s blue butterflies. The plan to bring the lupine and Fender’s blue butterfly back together was enacted through the recovery plan by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to High Country News, the Fender’s blue butterfly numbers have quadrupled thanks to those conservation efforts!
In fact, the conservation efforts have been so successful that the butterfly is to be downlisted from Endangered to Threatened on the Endangered Species List.
It’s just the second time an insect has made such a recovery, following the 2020 decision to move the American burying beetle from Endangered to Threatened, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The revival of the Fender’s blue butterfly, and Kincaid’s lupine by association, offer hope to the world of insect conservation. If this species can make a comeback then who’s to say other species can’t make one as well?