THIS BAY CHECKERSPOT BUTTERFLY was "spotted" sipping nectar with its long tongue from a wildflower during a recent hike on Coyote Ridge overlooking Silicon Valley. Its distinctive wing spots and black banding easily identifies the species and suggests its unusual name. The butterfly is found exclusively in the Bay Area so I was delighted to snap this photo. Also, the Checkerspot is rare enough to be listed as a federal threatened species -- which made the encounter even more special.
Scientists have found that increased urbanization and airborne nitrogen (from auto pollution, etc.) has encouraged bad invasive plants while discouraging good host plants that produce nectar that the Checkerspot needs. There are conservation efforts to preserve the species which include: designating "critical habitats," restoring landfill and hillside escarpments, replanting beneficial plants, and limiting future harmful foothill development.
An unfortunate chain of events that's made it difficult for these little guys!