Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and moths occur in a variety of diverse habitats, where nectar and food is abundant.  These insects are indicators of a healthy ecosystem, where healthy habitats provide a diversity of plants that provide nectar to adults and food for caterpillars (larvae). 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.

In the Bay Area, the National Park Service focuses on three federally endangered butterflies at most risk including 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. More info, including photo galleries, species lists, reports, guides and more below. 

Join Point Reyes National Seashore's Field Institue for a butterfly class typically held in Spring or Summer, or learn more about other upcoming classes. Don't forget to stop by one of the visitor centers to purchase your guidebooks in our bookstores too. Members receive discounts on classes and merchandise. Join today!

Annual Butterfly Counts
Are you interested and/or knowledgeable about northern California butterflies?  The National Park Service is recruiting and inviting folks to join them for the 2015 Point Reyes Butterfly Count on Wednesday, July 15 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The NPS will provide datasheets, suggested routes, and help create survey teams. Please bring sunscreen, water, snacks, lunch, a sunhat, sunscreen and optional items including guide books,  binoculars and cameras. 

Ben Becker, Ph.D.
Science Coordinator and Marine Ecologist
Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center
Point Reyes National Seashore
(415) 464-5187 

Meet at the Red Barn Classroom at Point Reyes National Seashore

Online Tools and Resources 
What is a butterfly or moth?
Butterflies of North America
Butterfly and Moth Species List for Point Reyes National Seashore
San Francisco Bay Area National Park Science and Learning website
Other Counts and Information on Butterfly Counts in California