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Fender's Blue Butterfly

Once thought to be extinct, the Fender's blue butterfly was rediscovered in 1989. It was listed as an endangered species in 2000. Fender's Blue once thrived in the prairies of Oregon, but during the past 140 years an estimated 99 percent of this native prairie has been developed for farmland or other uses. Only 408 total acres of land host populations of these butterflies. Habitat loss from agriculture and urban development poses the greatest threat to the Fender's blue butterfly. Another major threat is the invasion of exotic plants such as Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom, which have been out-competing and displacing the Kincaid's lupine (Lupinus sulphureus var. kincaidii) and other native wildflowers in upland prairies where the butterflies live. The Kincaid lupine is listed as a threatened species in the wild.

Adult butterflies begin laying their eggs primarily on the Kincaid's lupine, during the month of May. Once the larvae hatch, the caterpillars feed briefly on the plants in early July. Soon after that time, they drop to the base of the plants for the fall and winter. In February or March they emerge as caterpillars, crawl up the plants and feed on the lupine leaves. The larvae then enter their pupal stage and emerge as adult butterflies in May.

The Fender's blue is a small butterfly in the family Lycaenidae, with a wingspan of about 2.5cm (one inch). As its name implies, the upper wings of male Fender's blue butterflies are predominately iridescent sky blue. Females have rusty brown wings. The dorsal surface of both sexes have a black border within a white fringe and the underside is pearly gray to dirty chalk, with black and brown spots, outlined in white.

The largest known populations of this butterfly exist in the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge-just across the highway from us. In honor of the egg laying season, we are donating 10% of all proceeds through the month of May to help restore and protect endangered habitat for this brilliant blue beauty.

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