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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Volunteering Takes Flight in Oregon Silverspot Butterfly Habitat Enhancement

Region 1, November 5, 2012
Youth, volunteers, and partners roll up their sleeves to work on creating habitat for the Oregon silverspot butterfly.
Youth, volunteers, and partners roll up their sleeves to work on creating habitat for the Oregon silverspot butterfly. - Photo Credit: n/a
Oregon silverspot butterfly on goldenrod
Oregon silverspot butterfly on goldenrod - Photo Credit: n/a

On two sunny September days on the central Oregon coast, 6 miles south of Yachats at Agate Meadow, 52 volunteers planted 6,000 plants to enhance butterfly habitat quality for the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly. The butterfly needs habitat which has an abundance of violets for the caterpillars to eat, with each caterpillar consuming between 200-300 violet leaves, before it transforms into a butterfly. Native wildflowers such as goldenrod and asters are also needed to provide nectar for the butterfly. The butterfly’s habitat had become degraded over time from invasive non-native plants which had overtaken the native plants.

Habitat improvements were needed to compliment the release of captive-reared butterflies which the Oregon Zoo in Portland, OR, and Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA, provided for release into the meadow earlier this summer.After a brief training in how to use a planting tool called a dibble, the 35 adult and 17 youth volunteers quickly got into their roles as either dibblers or planters. The planters could be heard to say, “I need a re-dib”, if the holes were too shallow or collapsed, which signaled a dibbler to redo the hole. The plants went quickly into the ground and by late afternoon the butterfly garden was finished. Many of the volunteers were treated to a tour of the adjacent gardens planted last year and were excited to see not only the blooming wildflowers, but a few remaining Oregon silverspot butterflies nectaring in the garden. This was the seventh year of this event to help achieve the ultimate goal of a self-sustaining population of the Oregon silverspot butterfly on the central Oregon coast. These efforts give the butterfly a fighting chance at long term survival.

Contact Info: Amanda Fortin, (503) 872-2852, amanda_fortin@fws.gov