Euphydryas editha taylori - (W.H. Edwards, 1888)
Taylor's Checkerspot
Other English Common Names: Whulge Checkerspot (USFWS name)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Euphydryas editha taylori (W. H. Edwards, 1888) (TSN 201295)
French Common Names: damier de Taylor
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.107069
Element Code: IILEPK405K
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Nymphalidae Euphydryas
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, Their Taxonomy, Distribution, and Biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University: Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B05WAR01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Euphydryas editha taylori
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Sep2008
Global Status Last Changed: 01Sep1998
Rounded Global Status: T1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: There were 11 known "populations" which are remnants of fewer, apparently about seven, actual occurrences as of 2006 and it is possible some have died out since and recent extirpation rate for colonies has been over 50% per decade. One population crashed from about 7000 in 1997 to extirpation by 2001. It is not clear whether any remaining populations are viable and somewhat unlikely any colonies not part of functional metapopulations can survive long-term. It is nearly certain there are not more than four viable occurences. This species and others in the genus are subject to large natural fluctuations and local extirpations due to weather, e.g. drought, among other factors. There may also be important unknown threats since some extirpations are unexplained. The subspecies has declined drastically (>99%) in the long term and is still declining and may well be headed toward extinction. This rank also agrees with the S1 ranks throughout its range, listing as endangered in both jurisdictions where that status can be applied to invertebrates, and the determination of critically imperiled by the Xerces Society (see Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America, 2007). This subspecies has become management-dependent because its habitats are now too small and fragmented, and too heavily invaded by alien weeds, to persist based on natural processes.

Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (01Sep1998)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (07May2013)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Oregon (S1), Washington (S1)
Canada British Columbia (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (03Oct2013)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R1 - Pacific
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (06May2011)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: 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.

Status history: Designated Endangered in November 2000 and in May 2011

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Known from the Puget Trough/Willamette Valley/Georgia Basin, from west central Oregon, through Washington, to southern Vancouver Island in Canada.

Area of Occupancy: 1-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The USFWS estimates about 100 hectares for the largest population at Fort Lewis, although seemingly potential habitat is more extensive (J. Fleckenstein). The current Canadian colony occupies less than one hectare. According to Eleanor Gaines, Oregon Natural Heritage Program (email to Nicole Capuano, 3 october 2008) the core habitats of the two Oregon populations are within two areas that total 35 acres (about 14 hectares). However the actual breeding habitat is much less than that. So for four of the eleven population, including the largest and smallest, the total area of occupancy is under 116 hectares (<290 acres acres). It is likely that the other seven or so occurences occupy well under 100 hectares each, and that the total area of occupancy for the subspecies is much less than 1000 hectares (2500 acres).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Although new, or at least previously undetected, colonies continue to be found as recently as 2006, the number of active known colonies continues to decline. According USFWS (2004) with the discovery of three new locations the total known was 14 colonies, these probably represented seven metapopulation occurrences; one in British Columbia, four in Washington, and two in Oregon. Similarly, a 2005 status report by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife listed 13 colonies with ten in four distinct areas of that state. USFWS (2007) reported (as of about 2004-2006) only eleven extant colonies, a tiny one in Canada, eight in Washington, and two in Oregon. Those in Washington cluster into about three or four metapopulation occurrences, and the two in Oregon may be remnants of the same metapopulation but may now be isolated. The original colonies in British Columbia are extirpated but a tiny, previously unknown, colony was discovered on a different island in 2006. Over half of colonies documented as extant in 1997-2002 no longer are. Thus using reasonable definitions of occurrences based on metapopulations there are no more than seven extant, and some of these would not meet any reasonable criteria for viability.

Population Size: 250 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: This species, like several others in the genus, is prone to large year to year fluctuations. For example the larger Oregon colony reportedly had over 1200 adults in 2005 and no more than 300 in 2006, which is a relatively modest fluctuation for this species based on better studied subspecies. The remaining Fort Lewis population has increased to over 1000 adults in recent years, but was apparently previously smaller. One of the Fort Lewis populations had about 7000 adults in 1997, but only ten were seen in 2000, and none from 2001 to 2006. According to USFWS (2007) four of the current eleven colonies are believed to usually produce over 100 adults in a generation, and two of these sometimes exceed 1000, one colony seems to produce about 50-100 adults and the other six generally fewer. In very good years the species probably produces more than 2500 adults, but it probably does not approach that number consistently and it is the lower numbers in poor years that most impact viability.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None to few (0-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Considering the history of fluctuations and unexplained, or explained, extirpations since 1990, it is uncertain whether any populations are viable and unlikely more than four are. Although one of them does produce well over 1000 adults some years, and the other usually at least 100s, the long-term viability of the two isolated Oregon colonies is questionable since large fluctuations occur and much larger populations have been known to die out. EO Ranks of C would seem appropriate for both. While a formerly much larger population there failed to persist, the current Fort Lewis metapopulation in Washington seems most likely to persist.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats are discussed by both USFWS (2004), The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (2005), (Black and Vaughn, 2008), among others. Except for three colonies lost to Btk spraying against gypsy moth and probably one to burning, the decline of this once widespread and common subspecies was almost entirely due to loss of habitat, sometimes by conversion to agriculture or development, but also due to succession caused by lack of fires, and to invasive plants. The current threats include most of the causes of decline, although probably not prescribed burning now, as well as small population sizes (most populations may be under 50 adults most years), and also isolation of many colonies. Where population sizes are small even collecting could be a threat. Small populations at most sites, perhaps all sites in some years, suggest the potential for genetic depletion through inbreeding. Climate change may be or become a threat, especially if the region becomes drier. The inability to explain some or most extirpations suggests there could be other pervasive problems. Some populations of this genus are inherently unstable, occur as metapopulations, and naturally undergo frequent extirpation and recolonization. This includes better known subspecies of this species studied by Ehrlich's lab and also the common eastern E. phaeton. Parasites, drought, depletion of foodplant are among possible factors behind any natural instability, but basically E. editha taylor is now so reduced that effective metapopulation dynamics may be unrestorable. If metapopulations consist of generally only two demes, it is also quite possible both could fail in the same season eliminating the occurrence permanently. All remaining occurrences are at serious risk of extirpation due to almost any natural or unnatural negative impact or to lack of management. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, finds that this species is management dependent there, and that state contains over 70% of occurrences. Information from Canada and Oregon suggests similar dependence in those places. The most pervasive overall immediate threats are metapopulation disruption and alteration of remaining habitat scraps by alien weeds (see USFWS 2004) but these are far from the only threats.

Robert M. Pyle mentioned extinction of a well known colony following a prescribed burn in the 1990s in at least two oral presentations attended by D. Schweitzer in the 1990s. Larvae in the litter would not be expected to survive any but the "coolest" prescribed burns unless the fire were quite patchy. It is possible that other populations were lost to prescribed burning. Poorly planned or wild fires at any season are a threat due to direct mortality and must be carefully managed. However, in the larger picture lack of fires has contributed to loss of habitat to succession. BTK spraying aimed at Asian Gypsy Moth probably caused or contributed to loss of three populations in the 1990s (USFWS 2004). Butterflies in general seem to be highly sensitive to BTK despite extreme variability among Lepidoptera in general (Peacock et al. 1998 and other references) which ranges from no impact to almost complete mortality even within the same genus in several families. Euphydryas populations would be fully exposed as mid or late instar larvae and must be assumed highly sensitive unless documented otherwise. This is a widespread threat especially to already small populations.

Euphydryas editha bayensis was remarkably little affected by the now classic deliberate removal (which simulated extreme overcollecting) studies by Ehrlich's workers in the 1970s. There is no plausible mechanism by which a mark-release-recapture study at Ft. Lewis could have caused the the crash of the population from 7000 in 1997 to extirpation by 2001, but it is not known what did, and it is not known in what year the decline actually started. Ehrlich's work strongly implies even outright removal of most adults would probably not have had close to that impact. Most workers are prudently reluctant to conduct such studies with severely stressed populations and it is possible, although not really likely and not actually demonstrated, that such studies when numbers were already very low and declining in the last year or two contributed somewhat to the final demise of the famous Jasper Ridge populations of E. editha bayensis (see McGarrahan 1997). Research activities per se pose little or no threat to E. editha taylori or any viable butterfly population (see also USFWS, 2007), but could add additional threats to already severely declining occurrences. Perhaps more important than handling, which does not cause much mortality, would be persistent disturbance disrupting normal behavior if several persons are present in a small habitat for extended periods (D. schweitzer, personal experience with other species).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Short-term Trend Comments: See USFWS (2004 and 2007), over half of known colonies dies out in the last decade, usually for unknown reasons. One population was rediscovered in BC in 2005 or 2006. Of about 30 recent historic sites about 10 were occupied in 2000 and 5 by 2002, suggesting about a 50% loss in two years. However, previously unknown colonies were found. There were also several documented losses in 1990s. As of spring 2004, butterflies were known at 14 locations including three newly discovered as a result of intensive effort. These probably comprised seven or fewer occurrences since some were apparently metapopulations. As of the 2006 season the number had dropped to eleven colonies.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: About 3% of the original grassland habitats remain (USFWS, 2007), but often in degraded condition and most of this is unoccupied, so it is safe to assume more than 97% habitat loss in past 200 years. Also there were at least 70 historic sites actually documented and there were obviously many more than that that were undocumented before being destroyed-especially considering that a few new ones were found as recently as the 2000s. Thus 11 remaining colonies, about seven metapopulations, represents more than a 90% decline in number of populations. Area of occupancy has apparently declined by about 99%, and population size has decline at least comparably.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)) Known from the Puget Trough/Willamette Valley/Georgia Basin, from west central Oregon, through Washington, to southern Vancouver Island in Canada.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States OR, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OR Benton (41003), Lane (41039)*
WA Clallam (53009), Island (53029)*, Lewis (53041), Mason (53045)*, Pierce (53053), San Juan (53055)*, Skagit (53057)*, Skamania (53059), Thurston (53067)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Lewis (17080002)+, Lower Cowlitz (17080005)+*, Upper Willamette (17090003)+, Mckenzie (17090004)+*, Upper Chehalis (17100103)+, San Juan Islands (17110003)+*, Nisqually (17110015)+, Deschutes (17110016)+, Skokomish (17110017)+*, Puget Sound (17110019)+, Dungeness-Elwha (17110020)+, Crescent-Hoko (17110021)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A medium-sized (4-5 cm. wingspan) orange, black, and white butterfly in the family Nymphalidae.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Woodland - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Dry prairies or prairie-like native grassland in Puget Sount, Willamette portions of range, maritime meadows within Garry oak ecosystems in Canada.
Food Comments: Tthe documented foodplants for this subspecies are Castillegia hispida, Plantagot maritima, and the exotic P. lanceolata. Only the last is documented range-wide.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Biological Research Needs: Better understanding of causes of those fluctuations and extirpations that cannot be explained by weather or known unnatural disturbances would be useful.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30Sep2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F., J.W. Fleckenstein (2006 version)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30Sep2008
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): DFS

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • B.C. Ministry of Environment. Recovery Planning in BC. B.C. Minist. Environ. Victoria, BC.

  • Baron, N., and F. Backhouse. 1999. Rare Butterflies of Southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Wildl. Branch. 6pp.

  • COSEWIC. 2000. Species Profile: Taylor's Checkerspot. Online. Available:

  • COSEWIC. 2011c. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Taylor's Checkerspot Euphydryas editha taylori in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. x + 60 pp.

  • Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 2011a. COSEWIC Assessment Results. May 2011.

  • Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (M. Berenbaum, Chair). 2007. Status of pollinators in North America. National Research Council of the National Academies, The National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 307 pp.

  • GOERT. 2007. Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team Website. Available: (accessed January 2007).

  • Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team. 2003. Euphydryas editha taylori (edit 2011). In: Species at risk in Garry oak and associated ecosystems in British Columbia. Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Victoria, British Columbia.

  • Grosboll, D.N. 2004. Captive Rearing the Endangered Mardon Skipper (Polites mardon) and Taylor's Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori) Butterflies: Initial Results (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). In T.D. Hooper, ed. Proc. of the Species at Risk 2004 Pathways to Recovery Conf. March 2-6, 2004, Victoria, B.C. Species at Risk 2004 Pathways to Recovery Conference Organizing Committee, Victoria, BC. 18pp.

  • Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia. UBC Press and Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria, British Columbia. 414 pp.

  • Guppy, C.S., J.H. Shepard, and N.G. Kondla. 1994. Butterflies and skippers of conservation concern in British Columbia. Can. Field-Nat. 108:31-40.

  • Guppy, C.S., and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia. UBC Press in collaboration with Royal B.C. Mus. 414pp.

  • Hinchliff, J. 1996. Records used in the atlas of butterfly records from Washington. Unpublished

  • Layberry, R. A., P. W. Hall, and J. D. LaFontaine. 1998. The butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280pp. + color plates.

  • McGarrahan, E. 1997. Much-studied butterfly winks out on Stanford Preserve. Science 275:470-480.

  • Miskelly, James W. 2004. Habitat requirements and conservation of the butterflies Euchloe ausonides insulanus (Pieridae) and Euphydryas editha taylori (Nymphalidae) in southwestern British Columbia. Masters Thesis, U. Victoria. Victoria BC, Canada. 106 pp.

  • Opler, P. A., and A. D. Warren. 2002. Butterflies of North America. 2. Scientific Names List for Butterfly Species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.

  • Page, N., J.Heron, C.Webb and N.Kroeker. 2007. Surveys of Taylor's Checkerspot and other butterflies on Denman and Hornby Islands (2007). Report prepared for BC Ministry of Environment and Parks Canada Agency. 12pp. + appendices.

  • Page, N., P.Lilley, J.Heron, N.Kroeker. 2009. Distribution and habitat characteristics of Taylor's Checkerspot on Denman Island and adjacent areas of Vancouver Island (2008). Report prepared for B.C. Ministry of Environment and Parks Canada Agency by Raincoast Applied Ecology. 32pp + appendices.

  • Parks Canada Agency. 2006c. Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Maritime Meadows Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada. In: Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Ottawa: Parks Canada Agency. 93 pps.

  • Parks Canada. 2007. Gulf Islands National Park Preserve, visitor's guide. Sidney, B.C. Canada. Online. Available:

  • Pelham, J. P. 2008. A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada with a complete bibliography of the descriptive and systematic literature. The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. Volume 40. 658 pp. Revised 14 February, 2012.

  • Pohl, G.R., B. Patterson and J.P.  Pelham. 2016. Annotated taxonomic checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico. Working paper published online by the authors at (May 2016). 766 pp. Online:

  • Pohl, G.R.  J-F. Landry, B.C. Schmidt, J.D. Lafontaine, J.T. Troubridge, A.D. Macaulay, E.van Nieukerken, J.R. deWaard, J.J. Dombroskie, J. Klymko, V. Nazari and K. Stead. 2018. Annotated checklist of the moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Pensoft Publishers. 580 pp.

  • Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia. Seattle Audubon Society. Seattle, WA. 420 pp.

  • Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA. 583 pp.

  • Shepard, J.H. 1995. The status of butterflies of conservation concern on SE Vancouver Island and the adjacent Gulf Islands. Rep. submitted to Conserv. Data Cent., B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria.

  • Shepard, J.H. 2000. Status of Five Butterflies and Skippers in British Columbia. B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Wildl. Branch. Working Rep. WR-101. 27pp.

  • Stinson, D. W. 2005. Washington State Status Report for the Mazama Pocket Gopher, Streaked Horned Lark, and Taylors Checkerspot. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 129+ xii pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2007. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form for Euphydryas editha taylori. USFWS Lacey Washington office. Online, available:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2008. Draft recovery plan for the prairie species of Western Oregon and Southwestern Washington. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. x + 212 pp. Available:

  • WDFW. 2012. Annual report, status of endangered species, Taylor's checkerspot. downloaded 7 January 2014.'s_checkerspot.pdf .

  • Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, Their Taxonomy, Distribution, and Biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University: Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2005. Washington State Status Report for the Mazama Pocket Gopher, Streaked Horned Lark, and Taylor's Checkerspot. Online. Available:

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