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Endangered species

Summer 2011

The fate of a blue butterfly

A century or so ago, late spring in Oregon’s Willamette Valley saw waves of delicate blue and brown butterflies across a million acres of prairie, lighting on equally delicate lupines to lay their eggs.

At least we can imagine it that way. The region has long since been settled and farmed, and the prairies were the first to go. With them went the vast number of Fender’s blue butterflies and their host plant, the Kincaid’s lupine. The butterfly appeared to the eye of science only briefly, first in 1929, and occasionally until 1937. Then it vanished. Scientists assumed it was extinct.

In 1988, Paul Severns, … » More …