U S Fish and Wildlife Service


Past Featured Pollinators:
  Allen's Hummingbird
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird
  Calliope Hummingbird
  Costa's Hummingbird
  Crested Honeycreepers
  Dakota Skipper
  El Segundo blue butterfly
  Karner blue butterfly
  Lesser long-nosed bat

Mexican long-nosed bat

  Mitchell’s Satyr
  Monarch Butterfly
  Rufous Hummingbird
  Rusty patched bumble bee
  Taylor's checkerspot butterfly
More Pollinators:
  Fringed Orchids and Hawkmoths

Fun Fact:

Taylor's checkerspots are univoltine, meaning they only have one brood (generation) in a year. Each female can produce up to 1,200 eggs in her short lifetime.



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Featured Pollinator

image of an Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly.
Taylor’s checkerspot (photo: Ted Thomas/USFWS CC BY-NC 2.0)

The endangered Taylor's checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) is found in Oregon, Washington and the Province of British Columbia, Canada. They live in short vegetation communities covered mostly by bunchgrasses and native prairie flowering plants. These may be found on well-drained prairies where glaciers used to be, meadows within forests, coastal bluffs, stabilized dunes, and montane balds. Montane bald habitats are usually found on south sloping terrain with shallow soils dominated by grasses, moss and lichen with few trees. Ideal habitat for the Taylor's checkerspot includes nectar sources for adults as well as food sources for larvae (caterpillars).

Taylor's checkerspot frequently have large changes in population size. The species is able to survive these population swings where they have habitat corridors (stretches of suitable habitat that connect high quality patches of habitat) connecting the populations. Butterflies from nearby sites can re-colonize areas where populations have declined.

image of Taylor’s Checkerspot larva.
Taylor’s checkerspot larva (photo: © Oregon Zoo, used with permission)

The lifespan of the Taylor's checkerspot is fairly unique. Eggs are laid on the stem of host plants (the plant larvae eat) in late April through May, and then hatch about eight days later. The larvae develop and enter diapause (a period of rest) after about one month of feeding. Their diapause aligns with the time when host plants are dying off for the year. Larvae emerge from diapause the next year in late January through March and begin feeding again. In late March, most larvae will wander until they find a good site to form a pupa (chrysalis) and emerge two to six weeks later as adults. Some larvae will undergo diapause once more if conditions are not favorable, and pupate in late winter the following year. These larvae are nearly two years old before they pupate! This highly variable life cycle depends heavily on local environmental conditions.


image of .
Small blue-eyed Mary flowers, a food plant for adults and young Taylor’s checkerspots (photo: J.W. Frank/National Park Service)

Adult butterflies need a constant supply of nectar from flowers to live. Nectar plants for Taylor's checkerspots include plants that also serve as larval host plants, such as: English plantain (Plantago lanceolata), paintbrushes (Castilleja spp.), sea blush (Plectritus congesta), small and large flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora and C. grandiflora), and dwarf owl's clover (Triphysaria pusilla). Adults will also nectar on species which larvae do not feed on, including Puget balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) and common camas (Camassia quamash).


A large threat to the Taylor checkerspot is loss of habitat due to other uses. Loss of native plants, and in particular the loss of prairies to woody vegetation (trees and shrubs), is also a large factor in the decline of the species. Improper use of pesticides is also a threat.

Not all hope is lost. Collaborative efforts of raising and releasing of larvae are ongoing. One such effort with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Joint Base Lewis McChord has been ongoing since 2006. The Oregon Zoo (Portland, OR) and the Mission Creek Correctional Center for Women (Belfair, WA) produce 6,000 to 7,500 post-diapause larvae each year for this program. Larvae are placed into restored habitat in late February. A second effort began in 2017, with a partnership among U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Zoo and the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (Wilsonville, Oregon). The Zoo and Correctional Center raise eggs and larvae in captivity for release as larvae in Oregon.

Last Updated: June 17, 2019
June 17, 2019