A blue butterfly becomes the first one to go extinct due to humans in North America. The very last of Xerces blue butterflies flapped from the San Francisco environment in the early 1940s.
Now, these butterflies are only present in the museums in the glass displays.
These periwinkle pearly-winged organisms existed in the coastal sand dunes alongside San Francisco and were the first ones to be categorized by scientists in 1852.
With increasing in the rate of urbanization, the sandy soils of this region started to get disturbed. This gave rise to a ripple effect eradicating the species of the plant these caterpillars used.
The environmental change was too huge for them, and it resulted in the extinction of the Xerces blue butterfly.
Director of the Cornell University Insect Collection, Corrie Moreau said that the Xerces blue butterfly was the first insect in the US that was recorded to be pushed to extinction because of human activities.
Moreau further added that urban development and Habitat conversion are the measures that resulted into the extinction of this species. The Xerces blue butterfly has become a symbol for insect conservation in the US.
In fact, the biggest insect conservation association is also named after the species.
But scientists wonder if the Xerces were a separate species or was just a subspecies or truly a remote population of a different kind of butterfly, the one in silvery-blue color which lives across the Canada and western parts of the US.
Moreau revealed all the answers on this matter in the latest study published on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Moreau said that the research is an idle example of the importance of conservation of the insects as we are no longer capable of going out to collect the Xerces blue butterfly and the only mode to tackle genetic questions is the museum collections.