Oregon Zoo releases rare butterflies at the Oregon Coast - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Zoo releases rare butterflies at the Oregon Coast

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The Oregon Silverspot (photo courtesy of the Oregon Zoo) The Oregon Silverspot (photo courtesy of the Oregon Zoo)

Last week Oregon Zoo conservationists released the last of the summer’s zoo-reared Oregon silverspot butterflies from  Mount Hebo.

In an attempt to boost the population of the Oregon silverspot butterfly, the zoo and its conservation partners have been making weekly trips to the coast to transfer butterfly pupae to four field sites. Staffers have released nearly 450 zoo-reared silverspots this summer.

According to zoo officials, the population of this rare butterfly has been declining due to habitat loss and the disappearance of its host plant, the early blue violet.

The butterfly was once common along the Pacific coast from northern California to British Columbia but can now only be found in five sites and is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Over the next few weeks, the pupae will emerge as fully formed butterflies and launch themselves into the meadow, completing the release process.

With a life expectancy of about two weeks, silverspots need to get on with their lives quickly. Females have just enough time to mate, find a patch of violets and lay their eggs.

“The goal of the recovery program is to help each population grow large enough to be self-sustaining,” Zoo conservation research associate Karen Lewis said. “If it weren’t for this program, three of the five remaining silverspot populations would likely be extinct.”

The silverspot recovery effort began in 1998, but this is the first time the butterflies have been released at the U.S. Forest Service site atop Mount Hebo.

To learn more information visit OregonZoo.org.

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