lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

Q is for Quino Checkerspot Butterfly

This is a rare good news story on the sustainability front – that of the 3 cm quino checkerspot butterfly, here photographed by Adam Braziel:

Quino checkerspot butterfly Adam Braziel

Adam isn’t sure if this is the quino or the Wright’s checkerspot, but after making my eyes go whizzy looking at both species’ photos, Wright’s checkerspot is a different species altogether, not a subspecies of Edith’s checkerspot, (as is the quino) and the quino is less than half the size of the Wright’s, so my bet’s on the quino. In any case, this is what a quino checkerspot looks like – gorgeous!

The quino butterfly lives in southern California, and over the last 100 years has suffered a devastating loss of population, due to climate change (warming, so that its food plant, a type of plantain, could not grow), agricultural and urban development, the introduction of non-native grasses, fire suppression and grazing.

It declined to the extent of being present only in two small areas, and it is listed comprehensively on most species endangered lists – which is how I found it.

Scientists were concerned for its survival, including Professor Camille Parmesan of the Marine Sciences Institute at Plymouth University. She suggested in 2008 that the butterfly would be a good candidate for ‘assisted colonisation’, which is where humans intervene and help a species by moving it to a more suitable area.

BUT! To the amazement of scientists, the butterfly upped and moved itself to an area east of Los Angeles, and changed the food it feeds on, the first butterfly known to change its habits so comprehensively and rapidly.

Unfortunately most of the evidence is in the other direction, but this does give hope that at least some other insect species will be able to cope with the vagaries of climate change – there was an area for the quino checkerspot to go to avoid extinction, and a very important part of butterfly conservation is making ‘corridors’ – conserving and linking unspoiled land so that there is somewhere for our endangered insect species to move to.

Fight for your green spaces – insect species, butterflies and bees, pollinate our flowers, pollinate our crops, they are the essence of the reproduction of what sustains us. 




we are the movements

of the music

that the petal

perfumes sing,


we are pollen

and the nectar,

we are flowers

given wing


© Liz Brownlee


If you would like to blog hop to another A-Z Blog Challenge, please click from the logo in the right-hand column!


Information from:


Union of Concerned Scientists.

Butterfly Conservation.

Photo by Adam Braziel, used by Creative Commons License.

Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.







  1. greyzoned/angelsbark

    beautiful creature! And amazing how it moved and changed its feeding to ensure the stability of the species (if that’s the right word). Nature is truly a wonder…

    Michele at Angels Bark


    • It would be very helpful to know how they did that, wouldn’t it!


  2. lv2trnscrb

    Such a pretty butterfly! I lived in Southern California for years and never saw it 😦

    thanks for visiting!



  3. Now that’s an amazing butterfly. I must have something going on with butterflies as they have landed on my shoulder for decades. Maybe for protection I’m not sure.

    Stephen Tremp


    • Maybe you smell wonderful, like nectar, Stephen!


  4. “We are flowers given wing” is such a beautiful way to describe butterflies


  5. We risk reduced crop yields as a result of declines in butterflies, yet we spray our crops to prevent caterpillars.

    And we are, allegedly, the most intelligent species on the planet.

    Keith Channing A-Zing from


    • I know. it’s just unbelievable – and the sprays affect bees, too, of course, even more seriously. and if they left the caterpillars alone, and left the caterpillars’ predators alone, everything would be kept in balance.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ana salote

    As always, great advocacy for nature. Thank you.


  7. A beautiful poem. It is amazing how one part of nature can be so resilient and adaptive and yet others live in such a balance that one tiny tip and they are gone. Butterflies are so beautiful – I remember visiting a butterfly house when we were in Canada on hols some years back and it was amazing to see all the different species.
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)


    • Thank you Tasha. They are exquisite and I do think we take them for granted. It would be a less joyous world without them.


  8. That is a beautiful colored butterfly and the first one that I have seen with that design. Here in Germany, there are environmental people who fight for our insects and everything else in the natural environment.
    Love your poem too.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange


    • Yes – here, too, Pat – fighting an uphill battle, though!


  9. Wow! This is good news and can give us some hope that other insects can follow suit!
    @AllysePanaro from
    The Frog Lady


    • Hi Allyse, we can cross our fingers! It could just have been luck, though…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a beauty! I do love butterflies. Also enjoyed your poem as always, Liz. 🙂

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos


    • Thanks, Susan. They are such completely blameless creatures, aren’t they? I’ve never heard a word against them!


  11. Talk about connections in this universe! I just came from a presentation at Stanford University about the adaptability of coral reefs and how scientists are trying to figure out why some corals can adapt to the warming water trend and others can’t. Then here I am reading about the adaptability of this beautiful butterfly. Maybe there’s some hope for us as long as the adapting can keep up with the climate change. Thanks for visiting my site!


    • Yes- it’s interesting isn’t it! I have read about coral reefs and the fact that some of them are dissolving already where the sea has become more acidic. A problem for sea stars and all sorts of sea creatures. The problem is, you’d need all the steps in the food web the animal fits into s well, I’m thinking.


  12. This is a beautiful butterfly and it sounds like it can adapt. May we keep our fingers crossed. Another wonderful poem that shows the beauty of the butterfly


  13. we are flowers
    given wing
    Such a beautiful way to describe them!!


  14. I love the idea of flowers given wing – genius!


Please comment here! Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: