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Butterflies and Beetles

The pictures and text in the following selection are from the pamphlet "Field Guide to Species of Concern on the Hanford Site." This guide was developed by the Ecology Group, Earth and Environmental Sciences Center, Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC06-76RLO 1830.


Christensen, J.R. 1981. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of the Northwest. University of Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. Howe, W.H. 1975. The Butterflies of North America. Doubleday. Garden City, New York. National Audubon Society. 1981. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Each item below is a thumbnail preview and picture title. Click on a title to view a larger version of the picture and accompanying explanatory text.

When we think of "species of concern," we think most often of vertebrates, but butterflies and other insects are much more common than vertebrates, even on the Hanford Site. For example, the Site is home to at least 50 species of butterflies and 18 species of ground-dwelling darkling beetles.

This guide describes only those butterflies and beetle species of concern identified by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. State and federal (if appropriate) species designations as of April 1994 are included in the descriptions.


Butterflies and moths are scaly winged insects that make up the large order Lepidoptera. The scales of the butterfly are pigmented (or colored), which allows them to scatter or diffract light into all the colors seen by humans and even some colors (ultraviolet) that humans cannot see. All butterflies have antennae with a club or swelling at the tip. Nearly all butterflies fly only during the day although some fly at dusk. Butterflies are also cold-blooded and are affected by climate to a considerable degree. Their ranges generally correlate closely with climatic features-mainly temperature, precipitation, and host food plants.

Like most other insects, a butterfly passes through four very different stages in its lifetime: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The length of life of an adult butterfly varies, but is generally very short. The entire cycle from egg to adult may be only a month or two, although some arctic/alpine species have a 2-year life cycle, and some butterflies are believed to live no longer than 3-4 days.

Note: Nomenclature for butterflies follows that of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Species of Special Concern list, April 1994.

Tiger Beetles

The popular name Tiger Beetle suggests the predacious habits of these beetles. Adults are mostly diurnal. They are rapid runners, catching small insect prey on the ground with long sickle-shaped mandibles. These beetles are also rapid fliers and difficult to capture. Most species are colorful, often metallic with characteristic spots or bands on the wing covers (elytra). Immature beetles (larvae) are as ugly as adults are beautiful. They too are predacious and live hidden in burrows up to about 30 cm deep. They wait at the burrow entrance and lunge out to capture small prey.


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