San Diego Management & Monitoring Program


Recovery effort for Quino checkerspot butterfly at the San Diego Zoo

April 18, 2016 0:00am

Recovery Effort for Endangered Butterfly Underway at the San Diego Zoo

In a bright, window-filled lab near elephants and camels, the San Diego Zoo’s entomology department is caring for one of the rarest butterfly species in San Diego County. The Quino checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas editha quino, has experienced a drastic decline in population due to urban growth and housing development within its historical range of San Diego and Riverside counties.

Once found throughout California and into Mexico, the tiny Quino checkerspot butterfly population is now extremely fragmented, making it challenging for Zoo and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to find and collect eggs, larvae and butterflies for the recovery program. Due to the unique biology of this butterfly species, there have been many years when almost no Quino sightings were recorded. As climate change, drought and development have altered their habitat, the Quino’s future has become uncertain.

Read more about this project here.