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Human Impacts

Butterfly Benefits

Value to the Ecosystem

  • Butterflies are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems. If there are a lot of butterflies, then there is likely a wide range of other invertebrates
  • Butterflies contribute to pollination and pest control.
    • Pollinators, such as the Palos Verdes Blue, move pollen which then promotes reproduction. Pollination is vital to the growth of crops and thus critical to our survival. A lack of nutrition that is provided through these crops would lead to malnutrition and disease.
  • Butterflies are an important element of the food chain and are prey for birds, bats, and other animals that eat insects.
  • Butterflies are an important connector in the food chain of an ecosystem.

Value to Humans

  • People travel abroad to look for butterflies and the travel industry is a huge contributor to the economy.
  • Butterflies are used in classrooms to teach children about the process of metamorphosis.
  • Butterflies are model organisms used by ecologists for biological and scientific research (effects of climate change, flight patterns, the impact of habitat loss, fragmentation, etc.).

Past Human Impacts

Mass land development starting in the 1950s increased the human population on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and drastically decreased the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly population. In 1953, the Peninsula was home to 6,500 people until the Great Lakes Carbon purchased 6,800 acres of the Peninsula with a plan to turn it into a brand new community, increasing the population to 54,000 residents. The development of elements such as a new shopping area, residential areas, and the Los Verdes Golf Course decimated the native land of the Palos Verdes Blue. The development of areas such as Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes prove that humans benefit from the land that the butterflies occupy. Due to the high risk of wildfires in the area, humans also continue to conduct fire control practices that destroy the vegetation that contributes to the health of the butterflies such as their larval host plant (the plant that the emerging caterpillar uses as a source of food and where the butterfly will lay its eggs) known as the locoweed, slowly killing off the species. The species was the listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1980.

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Palos Verdes road plan

rancho palos verdes ecological reserves


Current Positive Human Impacts

Aside from negatively impacting the species through urbanization, humans have established management areas to positively impact the Palos Verdes Blue through the process of mass rearing.

Cons of insect mass rearing:

  • inbreeding depression
  • crowding
  • artificial diets
  • laboratory adaptation

The Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly Management Area, proposed by the Soil Ecology Restoration Group, is a preserve that consists of ten acres used as a habitat that is suitable to restore the butterfly population.

Since 1995, mass rearing of the Palos Verdes Blue has been in effect and in 2008, 2,400 butterflies were raised at Moorpark College. In March of 2010, captive-bred butterflies were released at the Deane Dana Friendship Park in San Pedro, near the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Humans have led restoration efforts to keep the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly species alive. Now, many organizations such as the U.S. Navy, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, California Department of Fish and Game, The Urban Wildlands Group, and Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy are working proactively to assist in the recovery of the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly.

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Moorpark College caring for captive-reared Palos Verdes Blue Butterflies.
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Palos Verdes Blue Butterflies being released by Moorpark College Faculty Aids

 

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