The endangered Oregon Silverspot Butterfly, once found in coastal headlands in salt spray meadows from Northern California to southern Washington, has all but disappeared due to habitat loss and fire suppression, which allows grass to crowd out its larval host, the Western Blue Violet. In times gone by, Native Americans set small fires to maintain the meadows.
Butterflies and insects play an essential role in the ecological balance on Earth. Harvard entomologist E. O. Wilson says that if we were to wipe out insects alone — which we are trying hard to do— the rest of the planet’s life would disappear within a few months. Humans need insects to live. Butterflies are insects in the order Lepidoptera. They are a valuable source of food for songbirds.
They pollinate wild plants and crops required for the survival of plants, animals and humans. Highly sensitive to ecological and climatic change, butterflies are key indicators of ecosystem imbalance. The Oregon Silverspot Butterfly was listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1980. In 1999, The Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Zoo, and Lewis and Clark College began a captive rearing and release program. Growing native wild flowers is one of the best actions we can take to help save these delicate painted masterpieces.