Species Profile

Taylor's Checkerspot

Scientific Name: Euphydryas editha taylori
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2011
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Taylor's Checkerspot

Taylor's Checkerspot Photo 1

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Description

The Taylor's Checkerspot is a subspecies of a butterfly commonly called Edith’s checkerspot. It is a medium sized butterfly with alternating black and orange bands on the upper wing surfaces. The underside of the wing has a pattern of orange, red, pale cream and black-checkered bands outlined with black. The black-checkered bands parallel the thorax (black) and abdomen. The tips of the front wings are rounded. The male Taylor’s Checkerspots are slightly larger than the females. Eggs are pale yellow and transparent and the caterpillars are black with orange bands.

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Distribution and Population

The Taylor's Checkerspot was historically found in southeastern Vancouver Island, the Puget Trough in Washington from Tenino north through the San Juan Islands, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In Canada, historic records from 1887 to1995 indicate there were 22 naturally fragmented populations in British Columbia: fifteen sites in the greater Victoria area, three sites from Mill Bay to Duncan, three sites on Hornby Island and one near Courtenay. Surveys in 2001 to 2003 indicated that the species was likely extirpated, but in 2005, 15 individuals were discovered on Denman Island, British Columbia.

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Habitat

The Taylor's Checkerspot needs open grassland with sparse vegetation and conditions that are suitable for the plant species that provide food for larvae and nectar for the adults. Often these sites are associated with the Garry Oak ecosystems, although native ecosystem habitats are not necessarily required. Areas cleared by human activities have supported thriving populations.

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Biology

Compared to most butterflies, the Taylor's Checkerspot has been well studied, though most of the work has focused on other subspecies. This butterfly feeds on plants of the genus Plantago and on figworts, both of which are members of the same plant family. Plantago and figworts both have chemicals called iridoid glycosides which stimulate oviposition at least for a related butterfly species. In Canada, three species of Plantago occur in habitat that is suitable for the Taylor's Checkerspot, and at least two of these plant species are probably used by the butterfly. Taylor's Checkerspot butterflies usually disperse only about 200 to 300 feet from where they are first sighted, though they can disperse more widely if conditions are too dry or the density of individuals in a given location is too high.The number of eggs produced by this butterfly appears to be greatly affected by the availability of nectar sources, and the species has to produce a large number of larvae to survive. Nectar sources for this species in Canada include a plant called Spring Gold (Lamatium utriculatum) and Wild Strawberry (Fragaria spp.).

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Threats

Garry Oak meadow ecosystems and adjacent open grasslands provide larval food and nectar requirements of the Taylor's Checkerspot in Canada. Invasion of these plant communities by introduced plants such as Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius), along with fire suppression and habitat destruction from urbanization are the main threats to the butterfly’s survival.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Taylor's Checkerspot is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

  • Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 250-478-5153  Send Email

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

4 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Taylor’s Checkerspot Euphydryas editha taylori in Canada (2011)

    Taylor’s Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori) is a small eye-catching butterfly with a wingspan of 26–43 mm. The dorsal wing surfaces of the most common colour form have alternating bands of orange-red, black and white. The ventral wing surfaces are predominantly orange with bands of white. The thorax and abdomen are black with faint orange bands on the posterior half of the abdomen. Taylor’s Checkerspot is one of more than 30 subspecies of Edith’s Checkerspot in North America.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Taylor's Checkerspot (2011)

    The historic range of this small, eye-catching butterfly in Canada was wider and included south-eastern Vancouver Island. Now it only occurs in a very small area on Denman Island, BC.  The habitat it occupies is likely to continue to decline in area and quality. Threats include habitat loss and degradation due to development, natural forest succession and the spraying of bacterial insecticide to control pest insects. Individual ownership issues exacerbate the combination of these and other threats.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (2016)

    This strategy has been developed to address the recovery of seven plant and two butterfly species and their associated habitats. These species are all characterized by one or more of the following: total population decline, small distributions with decline or fluctuation, loss of habitat, declining small population sizes or very small populations or restricted distribution (COSEWIC 2003b). Unless recovery actions are initiated, these species may become extinct or extirpated from Canada.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.