xConnectNW 130 - Endangered Butterflies

We sit down with Jim Dillman, Butterfly Surveyor, to talk about environmental impacts.

Producer: Destiny Liley, Associate Producer
Online Version: Destiny Liley
Posted: September 23, 2015 | 2:00 p.m.


Jim Dillman, retired Architect and Butterfly Surveyor, talks about the history of butterflies as well as the environmental impacts that effect them in our region.

Butterflies first developed 35 to 60 million years ago in Eastern Washington and Columbia Basin. The typical life cycle of a butterfly usually is a few weeks as an adult, the mating period, and then death, spanning over a two-year period. Butterflies will usually lay their eggs on a specific plant, and they will feed off of that phase once they are in the caterpillar phase. Once they are in the butterfly phase, they begin to exclusively feed off of one plant.

The plowing industry has developed herbicides - which over time have eliminated native and flowering plants that butterflies need which is contributing to what Dillman calls “habitat loss.” Another factor contributing to the endangerment of butterflies is the natural process of cows grazing on plants that are essential for butterflies once they reach their adult phase.

For avid butterfly collectors, Dillman suggests collectors use a camera to capture the butterfly, rather than physically collecting the butterflies. Washington State Law considers butterflies the same as deer and trout and to do serious collecting requires a license. “Yes, you can catch a butterfly in your yard with out a license, and probably no one will care.  If you do scientific collecting, as I do, try to not collect Monarchs.  Try not to collect Viceroys, a state species of concern.  Do Not collect Mardon or  Yuma Skippers, they are on the Endangered Species List.” Dillman advised.

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