The Crystal Skipper
The Crystal Skipper occurs only on a 30 mile stretch of the Crystal Coast in North Carolina, from Bear Island east to Fort Macon. It is limited to dunes around 100m wide next to the beach, which are home to its caterpillar’s food plant, Seaside Little Bluestem. The loss of the native dune ecosystem due to housing developments represents the biggest challenge facing the Crystal Skipper. Although even small patches of Seaside Little Bluestem can support butterflies, habitat fragmentation results in these patches being far apart.
Our research focuses on long-term population monitoring across the entire species’ range. We have plans to restore Seaside Little Bluestem at key locations along the coast that will provide “stepping stones” to keep individuals connected. Residents of the area can best support the Crystal Skipper by maintaining dunes with native vegetation, particularly Seaside Little Bluestem.
Our current work includes:
- Monitoring long-term persistence at main sites along the coast
- Assessing vegetation at occupied sites
- Restoration of coastal dunes through targeted plantings of Seaside Little Bluestem