San Diego Butterflies Reconsidered for Endangered List

Photo of Thorne’s hairstreak by Kojiro Shiraiwa

Photo of Thorne’s hairstreak by Kojiro Shiraiwa

Tucson-based Center for Biology Diversity informed readers last fall that a legal settlement it had sought with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would result in the Obama administration’s reconsideration of two San Diego (CA) county butterflies for federal listing as endangered species.

Hermes copper and Thorne’s hairstreak are the two species for which the protection was sought, according to the Center’s press release.  Hermes copper is a coastal and foothills species critically dependent on its food plant, spiny redberry.  Wildfires — especially a 2003 fire that burned almost 40 percent of the copper’s habitat — and coastal urbanization are the biggest threats to the species.  Thorne’s hairstreak is a mountain species known only from a small area on Otay Mountain in San Diego county.  The hairstreak, too, is limited by the range of its host plant, Tecate cypress.  Thorne’s status is grim, with wildfires, development, and foot traffic from illegal immigration all posing serious threats to the species, the last count for which turned up only about 100 individual butterflies.

“One wildfire event could wipe the species off the planet,” the Center’s news release notes.

Read the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition to list Hermes copper as federally endangered and petition to list Thorne’s hairstreak as federally endangered.

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