A wonderful neighbor of the Antioch area
Our generation is on the verge of the greatest mass extinction in over 65 million years, ripping holes in the fabric of life. By 2050, we could lose up to 50% of all life on Earth due to human activities driving habitat loss, pollution, and global warming. Our survival depends on the services provided by biodiversity, including clean air and water, food, medicine, and a stable climate. Our response to this crisis will be one of the lasting legacies of our time. California is among the 33 biodiversity hotspots on Earth, home to diverse ecosystems and over 300 threatened and endangered species. Thankfully, conservation can work and focusing our efforts locally is essential to reaching zero extinction.
Lange’s metalmark is one of the most endangered species (Top 10 according to the Center for Biological Diversity) in the United States. It declined from some 250,000 in historic times to just 154 in 1986. It improved a bit, but then declined to just 45 butterflies in 2006. Today the species is still on the knife edge of extinction. (Population Graph)
DESCRIPTION:The Langes Metalmark Butterfly is a beautiful butterfly with a wingspan of about 1-1.5 inches. This butterfly’s survival is utterly dependent upon the naked-stemmed buckwheat, a native plant that thrives in the nutrient-poor soils of sand dunes. Butterflies lay eggs on the leaves of the buckwheat during its annual 10-day mating cycle, and the caterpillars dine solely upon the buckwheat before completing its life cycle.
HABITAT: This butterfly lives in sand dunes and can only be found in the Antioch Dunes, a National Wildlife Refuge and relic desert situated in the San Francisco Bay-Delta area near the southern shore of the San Joaquin River.
THREATS: Several large power plants in Contra Costa county near the Antioch Dunes release nitrogen emissions that are altering the chemical composition of dune soil. This allows invasive species to crowd out the Langes Metalmark’s precious buckwheat, imperiling the butterfly’s chance of survival.
SOLUTIONS: Shut down the four power plants that threaten the butterfly and the health of the neighboring communities. Also, improve butterfly habitat through dune restoration, clearing away nonnative plant species and planting buckwheat.