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Taylor's checkerspot butterfly

Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and other rare butterflies survive on the native wildflowers of remaining oak-woodland prairie habitat in Washington State.

Pollinator of the prairie

Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Photo: Dana RossConservation Northwest and allies have for two decades protected rare prairie-dependent butterflies, including Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. We've done that by holding at bay construction of the destructive Cross-Base Highway through the biggest intact piece of surviving oak-woodland prairie in Washington.

Taylor's checkerspot is a keystone insect of woodland prairies in parts of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

Taylor’s checkerspot populations are declining quickly in the Northwest, where it traditionally lived in coastal and inland grasslands on southern Vancouver Island and surrounding islands in British Columbia and the San Juan Island archipelago, as well as in open prairies on post-glacial gravelly outwash and balds in Washington’s Puget Trough and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

New! 2014 Guide to Butterflies of South Puget Sound

Prairie indicator

Because the Taylor’s checkerspot is sensitive to changes in its habitat, its presence is an indicator of the health of the entire ecosystem and welfare of other prairie wildlife.

Taylor's checkerspot is in jeopardy because its prairie habitat is small and getting smaller.

  • What was: A quarter-million acres of prairie in western Washington
  • Is now: several thousand acres today

Native grasslands are vulnerable to agricultural and urban development, tree encroachment, and invasive plant expansion. Butterflies themselves are highly susceptible to increases in pesticide use, recreation, and farm grazing.

Saving prairie habitat

Conservation Northwest, in collaboration with The Xerces Society and others, is working for the Endangered Species Act protection for Taylor’s checkerspot and other rare butterflies, including the mardon skipper and the island marble, to recognize and protect critical native prairie habitat for generations to come.

More on Taylors checkerspot from the Seattle Times
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