Butterflies are an important scientific and aesthetic component of South Puget Sound prairies. At
least 48 species of butterflies have been found on the prairies, about one-third of these are found
on most prairies. Several prairie dependent butterflies are of conservation concern. Four species,
the Mardon skipper, Puget blue, Whulge checkerspot and Zerene fritillary, are candidates for
listing as threatened or endangered by the State of Washington. Each of these species has a
unique pattern of distribution and ecology and is at significant conservation risk.
The current distribution of butterflies within South Puget Sound prairies is patchy and localized.
Some prairies are extremely important for both rare and common species, while others are
seemingly butterfly vacuums. Managers of these prairies must consider the effects of their
management actions on butterflies, and use the full range of suitable management tools. These
tools should include controlling Scotch Broom through manual cutting, prescribed fire and
chemical control with herbicides. While we know more about butterflies than any other group of
invertebrates, there is still much that we do not understand. Research priorities for butterflies of
the South Puget Sound prairies includes status and distribution surveys, definition of critical
habitat characteristics, effects of fire and recolonization patterns.
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