El Segundo Blue ButterflyIn 1927, a plane piloted by Charles Lindbergh and humorist Will Rogers landed on a dirt runway east of the El Segundo dunes.  The site was eventually chosen as the Los Angeles International Airport.
By the 1950’s a subdivision covered much of the El Segundo Blue habitat, right under the flight path of LAX airport.
In 1973, the president of the United States signed into law the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the world’s only legal prohibition against the extinction of other species, even those as small and localized as the El Segundo Blue butterfly.
In 1975, thanks to members of the conservation group, the Xerxes Society, Standard Oil Company agreed to fence off and manage their small portion of the El Segundo Blue habitat.  This was the first formal butterfly reserve in California.
In 1976, the El Segundo Blue (Euphilotes battoides allyni) was listed as protected under the Endangered Species Act.
In 1991 the Los Angeles City Council voted that two hundred acres of the dune system be permanently preserved.
El Segundo BlueThirty-three years after being classified an endangered species, the El Segundo Blue butterfly is flourishing once again on 200 acres of sand dunes near Los Angeles International Airport.
In 2009 the endangered El Segundo blue surprises scientists by rebounding and expanding its range in the South Bay.
The size of a thumbnail, the El Segundo Blue butterfly stays close to it’s host plant, Seacliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium), also called dune eriogonum or dune buckwheat.
Seacliff Buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium)Seacliff buckwheat is among the many buckwheat species we have in southern California.  Seacliff buckwheat is typically found on dunes and bluffs along the coastal communities from San Diego County up to Monterey County.  Like many other buckwheats, although its main blooming season is during the summer, some blooms may be observed at almost any time during the year ranging in color from a rosy pink to white and then to a deep coppery bronze when dry.
Plant some Seacliff Buckwheat in your garden today… More seacliff buckwheat would mean more El Segundo Blues!

Excerpts from one of my favorite books, An Obsession With Butterflies ~ Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect by Sharman Apt Russell
Photos and text excerpts the LA Times article “Reaching New Heights” July 30, 2009 ~ http://www.latimes.com
posted by Vickie