Lotis Blue Butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)

Scientific Name: Lycaeides idas lotis
Date of listing: 1976
Federal Status: Endangered
State Status: None

Possibly extinct, the Lotis Blue has not been seen alive since 1983. Little is known about this mysterious butterfly. It is only known from a few sites near Mendocino on California's north coast. Thought to have been restricted to a rare coastal bog type of habitat, this butterfly may be a victim of climatic shifts as much as development. Droughts in the late 1970s caused severe declines in populations of Coast Hosackia (Lotus formosissimus) the plant thought to have supported the development of this butterfly.

Bogs may be considered to be old ponds which have gradually undergone a process known as eutrophication, a process which eventually leads to dry land. Though this is natural and the butterfly has probably adapted to the need to move its location periodically, human activities may have played a role in altering successional patterns and preventing the formation of new bog habitat.

Ongoing studies are using aerial photography and other remote sensing techniques to attempt to identify areas potentially still inhabited by the Lotis Blue. If the butterfly is rediscovered attempts will be made to breed the species in captivity and assist individuals in getting to appropriate breeding sites. Meanwhile research is being conducted on the successional patterns of bog habitat and the needs of the host plant in a hopes of preventing its decline and perhaps that of other associated organisms in the future.

For further reading:
Arnold, R. A., 1983. Ecological studies of six endangered butterflies (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): Island biogeography, patch dynamics, and design of habitat preserves. University of California Publications in Entomology 99: 1-161.