Restoring the Bay Checkerspot back home to Edgewood Park, San Mateo County

February 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s been an amazing year for Bay Checkerspot Butterfly (BCB) larvae this year. Numbers have increased 5-fold, ten-fold, even 20-fold for some of our long term research plots.  After about a half dozen “down years”, it’s a welcome rebound.  This little federally threatened butterfly that takes to the skies mid to late March every year and then disappears for another 11 months has helped ecologists understand the interaction of this species with an soil environment that is increasingly saturated with nitrogen from automobile exhaust.

Jimmy showing off a larva for the camera

Starting January, our crew at the Creekside Center for Earth Observation surveys the serpentinite blocks of Coyote Ridge and Tulare hill in search for BCB larva.  Chief Scientist Stuart Weiss has been tracking larvae for almost 30 years now, often celebrating his birthday with the first adult checkerspot butterfly taking to the air. The larval survey process requires a sunny day, an awareness of one’s own shadow and an ability to spot a glimmer of orange in a field of emerging plants.  This year we’re lucky enough to have a US Fish and Wildlife permit to transfer some of the larvae from Coyote Ridge to Edgewood, in hopes of restoring a population of BCB’s back in their old San Mateo stomping grounds.  Here are some photos from three days of efforts.

The gorgeous and friendly confines of Coyote Ridge

Our crew walking to a prime collection location

Dr. Stu Weiss searching for larva

Perfect shadows for a great collection climate

Counting and transferring collected larvae

About 100 little ones looking for a new home

Keeping track of the little ones before they are transferred to a cooler

Stu happy as a clam... or a checkerspot

Reintroduction at Edgewood

Christal distributing larvae at Edgewood

There's no place like home.

Here’s a bit more info on the project from Creekside.

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§ 2 Responses to Restoring the Bay Checkerspot back home to Edgewood Park, San Mateo County

  • Drea says:

    What great work! These photos are a tribute to how we, as humans, can help our mother earth. You all are an inspiration.

  • […] As you know, I chase butterflies. Mostly its been larva (these little black caterpillars that have the slightest of orange spots and are very difficult to spot) at Coyote Ridge, Santa Clara county.  Sometimes you can spend a whole day looking for the little guys and well, that’s your day.  In good years, like this year, we’ve found many “mini-cats” on the cool slopes of Coyote Ridge. Peak bloom for Coyote Ridge […]

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