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NEWS

Colorado Pollinator Profiles



Colorado's new Native Pollinating Insects Health Study was released at the start of this year! In conjunction, PPAN will be highlighting one of Colorado's native insect species in each edition of our monthly eNewsletters! Know someone who may enjoy getting PPAN's eNews? Share this link so that they can subscribe.




 

The Colorado Hairstreak butterfly (Hypaurotis crysalus) became Colorado's official state insect in 1996, thanks to a campaign led by 4th graders from across the state!


These beauties are found throughout Colorado and are closely associated with Gambel Oak shrublands, essential for their lifecycle. Gambel Oak is commonly found along the foothills of the Front Range, in southern Colorado, and in the foothills and lower montane zones of western Colorado.


The striking iridescent purple of this butterfly is actually well-camouflaged against the bark and leaves of the oak due to the underside of their wings being grayish with small black and orange spots. Caterpillars of the Hairstreak feed on oak leaves in spring, while adults feed on sap and aphid secretions from these trees (rather than flower nectar). At the end of summer, these pollinators mate and lay eggs that overwinter on the oaks—beginning a new life cycle upon hatching in the spring.


 


Tegeticula yuccasella, a species of Yucca Moth, shares an important mutualistic relationship with Soapweed Yucca (Yucca glauca), common across Colorado's arid prairies and foothills. In spring, the adult moths emerge from their cocoons in sync with yucca flowers. Female moths collect pollen, mate, and deposit eggs across various individual yucca plants, facilitating vital cross-pollination and seed production. Emerging larvae consume only some of the yucca seeds in a way that ensures the plant’s continued reproductive success.




In turn, the yucca plants support a variety of other wildlife, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and other insects. This is just one example from the intricate web of interactions that sustain our state’s ecosystems!

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