Butterflies of the SPRINg mountains nevada

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Introduction to the Spring Mountains (Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon)  

To most visitors the Spring Mountains, which includes the areas locally known as Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon, are little more than a scenic place to hike, picnic and camp to escape summer’s heat or to ski and throw a few snowballs in the winter. They are completely unaware the mountain range is essentially the Galapagos of the American southwest, a last refuge sustaining now isolated relict species and populations of once wider ranging species of plants and animals from the Pleistocene age; or that those remaining species are survivors from a time before the Mojave Desert existed.

Within that remarkable group of survivors is a butterfly fauna that clearly and simply illustrates that story and of the uniqueness of the Spring Mountains; -- the ancestors of many of the butterfly species found today in the woodlands and forests of the Mount Charleston area and in the unique habitats of Red Rock Canyon  once coexisted with many now extinct species including mammoth, ground sloth and camel. 


The Butterflies

Including residents, migrants and strays 108 species of butterflies have been recorded in the Spring Mountains. Nine of the resident species are endemic to the Spring Mountains, another four species are possibly endemic but additional research is needed to determine their exact taxonomic status. No other location of comparable size in North America has that many species of endemic butterflies.

Beyond the endemic species this unique butterfly fauna includes species that are rare and or that have very restricted distributions within the Spring Mountains, and species not found elsewhere in southern Nevada or in Nevada.

Distribution of Rare Butterflies

The majority of the Spring Mountains are within two separate management areas, the 
Spring  Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) and the Red Rock Canyon National   Conservation Area (RRCNCA).  

All nine of the endemic species, three species that are possibly endemic and many rare resident species of butterflies occur within the SMNRA.

Five of the endemic species, one undescribed endemic species and several rare resident   species of butterflies have been documented within the RRCNCA.

Populations of two rare resident species only occur outside the SMNRA and the RRCNCA on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

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