Visitors to Oregon's coastal Cascade Head Preserve walk down to the off-trail location where the silverspot butterflies reared in captivity are ready to be released. The threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly is found in only four locations along the Oregon coast.
Debbie Pickering, preserve ecologist, rolls back the mesh top of one of the cages to reveal an eager silverspot butterfly, ready to leave the protection of the cage. The butterflies have been reared in partnership with the Oregon Zoo and are released on the preserve's coastal grasslands, where they once thrived.
A slightly folded wing is enough to slow down the release of a butterfly.
Early blue violet (Viola adunca) is the primary food source of Oregon silverspot butterfly larvae. Conservancy ecologists work to plant native food sources like the violet in the butterfly's habitat.
A male Oregon silverspot butterfly waited patiently for the female to be released and then immediately engaged her in the next step of the life cycle.