What are some of the rarest butterflies?

jlk7807August 22, 2010

I was just sitting here reading the threads in this forum and i got to thinking, what are some of the rarest butterflies out there? Two I came up with are the Palos Verdes Blue butterfly, which is apparently only found in the Palos Verdes Peninsula in southwest Los Angeles County in California, and the Queen Alexandras Birdwing butterfly, which is found in the forests of Oro Province in Papua New Guinea and is the largest butterfly in the world! Does anybody have any others they can share with me? Thanks!

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runmede(7a Virginia)

The Xerces Society has a "Red List" for butterflies and moths that are becoming more rare.

Here is a link that might be useful: Red List of Butterflies and Moths

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 8:49PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

New lepidoptera are being discovered all the time. Over 900 new ones were found in 2006. If we don't even know it exists, it is probably pretty rare.

The "Red List" is good for seeing what might be on its way to extinction in North America unless it gets help.

When I do my moth/butterfly talks in schools, I get to hear about the birdwing butterflies from the kids. "It is bigger than any moth." "It is up to 15 inches across." I eventually did the research and found out that the white witch moth has the largest documented wingspan (around 12" - depends what angle the wings are spread) and the atlas moth has the largest documented wing surface area. So, Ornithoptera alexandrae is the biggest butterfly but moths rule the record books. :D


    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 9:25PM
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bev2009(6 IN)

I was going to say the Karner blue butterfly, which lives in the midwest...and is on the red list. I planted the cat host plant, wild lupine, hoping to attract them and then found out they only travel very short distances. So there is pretty much zero chance of them every visiting my yard. I have never seen one. At the one nature center that does have them, they won't let you walk in the area where they hang out. I might get lucky some time and see one at the Dunes state park, but they are very small, 1" wingspan, so I could easily miss them.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 10:38PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

Even butterflies that travel a short distance will have a year that they expand their territory. So don't give up.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 11:33PM
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That Karner blue butterfly is amazingggg. So pretty! And kc, those moths are huuuuuuuge! That atlas moth is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 11:19AM
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bev2009(6 IN)

Runmede, thanks for the info. I'll see if I can't increase the lupine patch. I know they like the oak savanna. We do have oak trees on our property, although I don't know if it is the oak or the whole system they are attracted to.

The conservationists are trying to establish way stations, probably similar to the Monarch way stations, to encourage the Karner to increase their range. I believe they are working on every 1/2 mile, since that is as far as the Karner normally travel. I am 4.8 miles from the Dunes, although there could be some patches closer. I need to look into this and see if they are looking for any residential help.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 11:43AM
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Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis holds the title of the rarest catalogued species worldwide.

While Ornithoptera alexandrae is on CITES Apendice I, it's not rare in it's native habitat. A fair size portion of the income in PNG comes from the farming of them and other Ornithoptera and Troides species for sale to collectors.

Another species that is very rare here in NA is Boloria eunomia ursadentis.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 12:27PM
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