Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 323–330 | Cite as

Are gardens effective in butterfly conservation? A case study with the pipevine swallowtail, Battus philenor

  • Jacqueline M. Levy
  • Edward F. Connor


Gardens with nectar sources and larval host plants have been proposed to stem the decline in butterfly abundance caused by habitat loss. However, no study has provided evidence that gardens benefit butterflies. We examined the use of natural sites and gardens in the San Francisco bay area by the butterfly, Battus philenor. We found that natural sites were more likely to attract adult B. philenor, received more oviposition, and had higher juvenile survival than gardens sites. Butterflies were more likely to be present in gardens with established populations of the host plant, Aristolochia californica, growing in the sun. Battus philenor are unlikely to visit gardens with host plants planted within the past 7 years. Gardens between the ages of 8–40 years received oviposition, but did not always support completion of larval development of B. philenor. In gardens with host plants over 40 years of age, B. philenor consistently survived from egg to the adult stage. Natural enemy induced mortality of eggs did not differ between garden and natural sites, but overall egg survival was lower in gardens than at natural sites. It is unlikely that gardens serve as 'refugia' for B. philenor in years when populations in natural sites experience low survival or low fecundity. Even in gardens capable of supporting larvae to maturity, the density of eggs and survival rates were lower than in natural populations of the host plant suggesting that gardens were not optimal habitats. Therefore, without evidence that juvenile abundance and survival rates in gardens matches or exceeds that in natural sites, it is most likely that gardens act as population sinks for B. philenor.

Aristolochia californica Battus philenor Butterfly gardens Habitat restoration Lepidoptera 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline M. Levy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Edward F. Connor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Jacqueline M. Levy

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