/natural history/blue butterfly
Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly
In 1987, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes had the grand distinction with being the first public agency charged with violating the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 by eradicating the last known Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly with its construction of a baseball field in Hess Park. We were blessed with a second chance at undoing the total eradication when in 1994 another colony of P.V. Blues was discovered by Dr. Rudy Mattoni at the Navy Fuel Depot in Harbor City.
Taken from the Audubon Society Newsletter--Old Blue-Wings is Back! The Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly was thought to be extinct for the last ten years, but a dramatic rediscovery was made on March 10th by Dr. Rudi Mattoni and biologist Rick Rogers. The Blue Butterfly was found on the U.S. Naval Fuel, Weapons and Munitions storage annex in Pales Verdes. The site had not been visited by lepidopterists because of previously needed high security clearances.
After spotting three PV Blues flitting about in their deerweed food plants, Mattoni quickly stopped the Navy from a construction project that was putting a fuel tank under the butterfly's habitat. Fish and Game officials were called to the base and all construction work in the Blue's habitat has been suspended.
Tony was planning to trap several specimens and start the ball rolling on a major revegetation program there. He estimates there are between 100 and 200 PV Blues there now. The rediscovery is significant because the PV Blue remains on the Endangered Species List and can be used by conservationists to fight a planned three golf course/residential development on a 1000 acre plot nearby. Jess Morton, a longtime Pales Verdes Audubon activist, has been fighting developers there for many years and will most likely use this bit of good news to our advantage. The threatened California Gnatcatcher is also found in this coastal sage habitat
From the Penninsula News 9/23/99 -- The Palos Verdes Land Conservancy has been awarded $230,000 for the habitat restoration and reindroduction of the endagered P.V. Blue butterfly on the Linden H. Chandler Preserve in R.H.E.. The Blue Butterfly Project headed by Dr. Rudi Mattone of U.C.L.A. has been succesfull at bolstering populations at the Defense Fuel Supply Depot in San Pedro.
"This project represents the first opportunity to expand these efforts beyond the only known range of the nearly extict Blue Butterfly- a critical step to ensure its' survival." ---Dr. Rudi Mattone
As of April 2000 new issues again threaten this last know colony of butterflies with the proposed development in this Navy depot. Complicating this matter is the discovery by Dr. Mattoni that the P.V. Blue's population nose-dived this year. He doesn't know why the numbers were down so suddenly. Dr. Mattoni is the leading expert on the P.V. Blue and even he will admit there is much to learn about this tiny butterfly. There is no guarantee that the habitat restoration efforts at Chandler Preserve in Rolling Hills will work to re-establish the P.V. Blue there. They can only plant and hope for the best.