No help for rare SoCal butterfly

One of Southern California’s rarest butterflies, the Hermes copper, was denied endangered status on April 14 and was placed on the growing list of “candidate” species.

“Sprawl and huge wildfires threaten to wipe out this beautiful butterfly,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity, an organization that has been seeking protection for the butterfly for more than 20 years.

Anderson likens the yellow-orange spotted flapper to being condemned to “species purgatory” – 260 species are currently on the candidate list where they receive no protection and on average wait 20 years for any help.

As early as 1980, staff at the San Diego Natural History Museum noted “with San Diego’s increasing growth and the distributional nature of this little endemic butterfly, its future may well rest in the hands of developers.”

Depending on small areas of its host plant, the spiny redberry, the Hermes copper still occupies foothill and mountain areas up to 45 miles from the ocean.

— Brenda Rees, editor