Butterfly in the Sky: Methods to Reintroduce the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

Butterfly in the Sky: Methods to Reintroduce the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly



Lucy L. Reed, Joseph W. Reichel


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



Insect populations are declining across the globe. The goal of this project is to aid in the reintroduction of the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly species, that is one of the declining species, to Montgomery County by creating a sustaining population at the Spring Run Conservation Area in collaboration with the Five Rivers MetroParks. This species is experiencing population decline throughout the Eastern United States due to habitat loss from agriculture, land development, and invasive species. The Baltimore Checkerspot can only utilize a few plant species, and it feeds on the White Turtlehead plant. To reintroduce this species, we first monitored for Checkerspot caterpillars in early May. Adult Checkerspots were then collected in early June from the already existing wetland at Siebenthaler Fen, where a population of this species is known. Males and females were then placed in an enclosure with White Turtlehead plants to encourage mating and egg-laying. Once eggs were laid, the adults were re-released into Siebenthaler Fen, and the egg clusters were kept in rearing enclosures at the Cox Arboretum MetroPark greenhouse. During the fall semester, we visited the greenhouse twice weekly to monitor their development and have been trying different methods to further encourage their growth. Once a week, I took measurements of caterpillar head capsule sizes to not only monitor growth, but to hopefully create a definitive way to determine what instar a caterpillar is currently in, as this has not been documented before for this particular species. At the end of the fall semester, the 232 caterpillars that survived were placed underground in clay pots while they overwinter. When temperatures become warm enough, we will begin the rearing process again at Cox Arboretum. When the caterpillars reach a large enough size, they will be released into Spring Run where they can hopefully begin a self-sustaining population.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project 202380 BIO 421 P4

Primary Advisor

Kathleen A. Kargl, Chelse M. Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals


Butterfly in the Sky: Methods to Reintroduce the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly