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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release
For Immediate Release May 17, 2012
Jenny Finfera 614-416-8993 ext. 13
Celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites everyone to celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012, by learning more about endangered species in Ohio, getting outside and experiencing nature, and taking action to protect native plants and animals in your area. In Ohio, prairies and savannas offer a glimpse of colorful butterflies, including the endangered Karner blue butterfly.
“Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our successes and strengthen our partnership with the American public to conserve our shared natural resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By taking action to help our threatened and endangered plants and animals, we can ensure a healthy future for our country and protect treasured landscapes for future generations.”
People find butterflies fascinating, with their bright colors and dramatic lifecycle changes. One of the rarest butterflies that occurs in Ohio is the Karner blue butterfly. As a larva, this species only feeds on the leaves of wild lupine. Since this host plant is primarily found in oak savannas and barrens, it is most commonly found in the oak openings region of northwest Ohio.
In 1988, the last wild Karner blue butterfly was observed in Ohio. The butterfly’s current range includes Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire and New York. Since there was so little high quality oak savanna habitat left for the Karner blue butterfly across its range, it was listed as a federally endangered species in 1992. Since that time partners in northwest Ohio have developed the Ohio Karner Blue Recovery Team Ohio Conservation Plan.
One of the goals of the plan was to reintroduce a self-sustaining population of Karner blue butterflies back to the oak openings region of Ohio. The Toledo Zoo worked with partners to collect a limited number of Karner blue butterflies from Allegan State Game Area in Michigan for the zoo’s captive breeding program. The offspring of those individuals were then released back into suitable savanna habitat in Ohio in 1998. Since that time, Karner blue butterflies have been released at a few selected sites. Monitoring since the reintroduction has documented survival of the captive-bred butterflies and some dispersal into other protected habitat. Intensive land management to improve the quality occurred prior to the reintroduction and continues today.
The Karner blue butterfly is a larva for approximately three weeks and then forms a pupa. It emerges as an adult in mid-May, appearing as a small blue butterfly approximately the size of a quarter. Adults feed on nectar from a variety of plants. Eggs are then laid and a second population of butterflies occurs later in the summer.
While Karner blues are limited in their distribution in Ohio, there are many other unique butterflies that can be found in prairies and meadows throughout Ohio. Why not take a trip to a local prairie or meadow with plenty of flowering plants and observe some butterflies to celebrate Endangered Species Day? You can also plant a butterfly garden and include host plants such as milkweed for monarchs and parsley for swallowtails. You can also limit the use of insecticides to avoid impacts to butterflies. Habitat for butterflies can be restored by planting native plants. Learn to identify butterflies and then participate in some citizen science projects to monitor butterfly populations. Attend a program to find out even more about Ohio’s butterflies!
Endangered Species Day was established by Congress to promote the importance of protecting endangered species and share actions that people can take to help protect rare plants, animals, and their habitats. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. More than 1,300 species of plants and animals are currently listed as either threatened or endangered in the United States, and 23 are currently listed in Ohio.
For more info on the Karner blue butterfly:
For more info and activities to help butterflies and other pollinators: http://www.fws.gov/pollinators/
For information on Blue Week which celebrates the Oak Openings Region of northwest Ohio:
For information on butterflies in Ohio and ongoing butterfly surveys:
For information on educational activities with monarchs: