A wonderful neighbor of the Antioch area
The love life of the Langes Metalmark Butterfly is a story of being between a rock and a hard place. Aside from having an extremely narrow distribution, living on only 55 acres in the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in California, they also have astonishingly low population numbers, only 32 during a daily count last year. Let’s complicate it a few steps further and note they also only breed once a year when their host plant, the naked-stemmed buckwheat, is blooming. One more challenge, the adults only live one week putting a narrow time frame on an already challenging act. Imagine if you only had a week and 55 acres to find that special butterfly for you!
Entering the story of the Langes Metalmark Butterfly are the heroes, The Urban Wildlands Group. Based out of Los Angeles, this group started a captive rearing program for these butterflies. Capturing adult females from the wild and housing them with their host plant buckwheat they were able to successfully hatch eggs. Since they started the program in 2007, they’ve had two directions they went in. The first two years efforts were directed solely towards butterfly production and the second two years towards data collection. During the data collection years there were increased disturbance to the egg populations (lid lifting, etc) and, as you can imagine, they did not do as well as previous years. So the question posed is do we collect information about this butterfly at the expense of its well being or support the populations so they can thrive? The Urban Wildlands Group has decided during this next year to keep the focus on egg production and put data collection on the backburner. Do you think that was the right choice?
Keep an eye on this federally listed endangered species and the captive rearing program at: https://savethemetalmark.wordpress.com/