Left: Moth (Schinia pulchripennis) by Paul G. Johnson, NPS;
Top Right: Common Buckeye by Paul G. Johnson, NPS;
Bottom Right: Mission blue butterfly by NPS.

The San Francisco Bay Area Network of parks provides butterflies and moths with a diversity of habitats, and abundant nectar and caterpillar food plants. Because these insects depend on particular plants that provide nectar to adults and food for caterpillars (larvae), they are good indicators of overall ecosystem health. Threats to their well-being include habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, invasive plants that compete with their host plants, climate change, and various other forms of human influence, from poaching to fire suppression. The National Park Service helps protect butterflies, moths and the ecosystems they are a part of by preserving and restoring wildlands and by holding public butterfly counts in the summer. They also monitor populations of at-risk butterflies to determine when and where further action is required.

Federally endangered butterflies are among the Bay Area’s most at-risk species. These include the mission blue butterfly and the San Bruno elfin butterfly, both found in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly of Point Reyes National Seashore.