X is for blank ... I’m escaping across the pond to fulfil my countryside brief albeit in the Californian countryside .. and I’m sure you won’t begrudge me one slip away from my shores!
The Xerces Blue is extinct – sadly .. wonderful colour it must have been. The species lived in the coastal sand dunes of the Sunset District of San Francisco .. and is believed to be the first American butterfly species to become extinct as a result of loss of habitat caused by urban development.
It was last seen in the early 1940s in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The species was first described and documented in 1852, being characterised by blue wings with white spots.
|Seaside Bird's-foot Trefoil|
Two species of plants from the legume family - Bird’s foot trefoils and the appropriately coloured lupins – were essential food sources for the larvae of the Xerces Blue; which together in a symbiotic relationship with a particular ant were essential to the existence of the Xerces Blue.
Settlement of the Bay Area brought in new ant species which slowly replaced the necessary ant species within the butterfly’s super habitat.
Efforts are on to re-establish related butterflies, such as the Palos Verdes Blue – which are being reared in laboratories. A sub-species (Xerces-like) of the Silvery Blue has been discovered as well.
|Wild Perennial Lupin|
Up the coast to Portland ... an endangered invertebrate conservation group known as the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, named after the Xerces Blue, has now been in existence for forty years ... “protecting wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat”.
Another reminder to look after our habitat ... ensuring all species remain extant, while if we’re lucky new sub-species will continue to be found or evolve over time ...
X .. that spot in history denoting ten .. or a blank .. or various signs .. let us remember the Xs in our countryside and ensure we care for these unknowns ...
This was a Xerces Butterfly – that is what X is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories