Successful Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Release on JBLM

The sounds of tiny Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly larvae munching on plantain and paintbrush have returned to 13th Division Prairie on Joint Base Lewis McChord! Thousands of individuals were released in early March in an effort to re-establish a checkerspot population on a site this species has not occupied since the mid to late 1990’s. Biologists from the Center for Natural Lands Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Joint Base Lewis McChord joined Mary Linders of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in welcoming the momentous return of this species that was once a common sight on portions of 13th Division Prairie.

JBLM’s 13th division prairie spotted with flags indicating Taylor’s checkerspot release sites.

Taylor’s checkerspot had disappeared from the site by the early 2000’s, and CNLM has been working closely with installation projects to improve habitat in preparation for their eventual return. The fruits of those efforts were harvested in part with this initial release of larvae. Annual releases are planned to continue over the next several years until an adult breeding population becomes self-sustaining. CNLM will continue working with JBLM to maintain and improve checkerspot habitat, relying heavily on seed and plant materials produced at our very own Violet Prairie Seed Farm. JBLM encompasses the only known extant population of Taylor’s checkerspot in the South Sound region, and has already experienced at least one successful translocation of the species at Range 50 on the Artillery Impact Area. We hope to build on this success at 13th Division Prairie!

CNLM’s Susan Waters delicately transplanting a Taylor’s checkerspot larvae onto its host plant.