Creekside Science

Archive for the ‘Bay Checkerspot’ Category

Bringing the Bay Checkerspot Back to San Bruno Mountain

In Bay Checkerspot on March 19, 2021 at 10:48 am


Creeksiders and volunteers hunting for caterpillars on Coyote Ridge

Bay checkerspot butterflies were once much more widespread throughout the SF Bay Area. Many factors, including loss of habitat and host plants (Plantago erecta), have contributed to the local extirpation of the species in many sites. Coyote Ridge is the exception, where a large, healthy population can still be found. This spring, Creekside Science estimated nearly 800,000 Bay checkerspot larvae on the the ridge.

San Bruno Mountain is one site where Bay checkerspots were once common, but were then locally extirpated. For the past four years, Creekside Science has been working on bringing this population back. This February/March, armed with a team of volunteers to help collect caterpillars, we brought Bay checkerspot caterpillars from Coyote Ridge to San Bruno Mountain, and dispersed them onto good habitat. The interesting thing about habitat at San Bruno Mountain, though, is that we are seeing the caterpillars happily utilizing a new, much more common host plant, which we believe will increase their chance of persisting on San Bruno. Plantago lanceolata, a weedy invasive plant that is closely related to their host plant seems to also work well as a host plant, so these butterflies will have much more potential habitat than if they relied solely on the dwindled patches of Plantago erecta. This year we translocated 3,859 caterpillars, which we hope will be happy in their new home!

Bay checkerspot caterpillar happily munching on Plantago lanceolata
Bay checkerspot chrysalis

A Butterfly’s World: A Video by Kirra Swenerton of Root Wisdom

In Bay Checkerspot, Rare species, Restoration on January 22, 2020 at 11:11 am

Kirra Swenerton highlighted the Bay checkerspot butterfly’s return to San Bruno Mountain in a video featuring a number of the butterfly’s life stages. Creekside Science is proud of the success of this project so far, and is looking forward to continued collaboration with Kirra and all other invested partners.

The Bay Checkerspot Butterfly Returns to San Bruno Mountain!

In Bay Checkerspot, Climate Change, Nitrogen Deposition, Recognition and Media, Research, Restoration, Stewardship, Topoclimatic Studies on March 6, 2017 at 3:55 pm

The federally threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly was extirpated from San Bruno BCB_Larva_lanceolata_munch_SBM 3-1-2017 4-51-20 PM (1)Mountain in the mid 1980s.  On March 2 and 3 2017, Creekside Science biologists collected 3630 caterpillars from Coyote Ridge in San Jose and released them on the main ridge of San Bruno Mountain.  The larvae immediately started munching English plantain, a  non-native used by other closely related checkerspot populations.  The cool coastal environment, robust perennial hostplant, and extensive habitat are encouraging aspects of this project.  This project may show that we can reintroduce extirpated species without the technical challenges and expense of restoring all historical conditions.

BCB_Larva_SBM_SF 3-2-2017 5-23-37 PM

Find the very hungry caterpillar!

Many thanks to the Disney Butterfly Conservation Initiative, US Fish and Wildlife Service, San Mateo County Parks and Recreation, and SF Bay Wildlife Society for financial and professional support.

Kirra_SBM_SFO_larva 3-2-2017 4-46-55 PM

Reintroduction high above San Francisco International Airport. Bay checkerspot flight #1 will depart in late March!

Bay Checkerspot Larvae in action

In Bay Checkerspot on October 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Here’s a brief video from our Bay Checkerspot relocation efforts from 2013. Here’s your best chance to see these mini-cats dancing! Our translocation efforts to Edgewood Natural Preserve and Tulare Hill resulted in moving almost 5,000 larvae to each site.