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Skippers Butterflies and Moths: Lepidoptera

Conservation Status

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists 303 species of lepidopterans, 176 of which are listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable. Critically Endangered means facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild; Endangered means facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, and Vulnerable means facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service also lists twenty-five of these species, mostly butterflies, as Endangered, or in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. Giant birdwing butterflies and other species are listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).


Thousands of caterpillars are raised each year to sell as pupae to butterfly houses in Europe and the United States. Raising birdwing butterflies (Ornithoptera and Troides) in Papua New Guinea not only helps the local economy, but it also encourages people to protect butterfly habitats. The survival of the world's largest butterfly, Ornithoptera alexandrae, may depend on the efforts of farmers who encourage the growth of the caterpillar's food plants.

Butterflies are familiar animals that attract considerable attention. Unlike most insects, they are admired and appreciated by the general public. Because of this, many species have been given protection by local, state, national, and international agencies. Butterfly collecting is often thought to be the most serious threat to their populations, but this is simply not true. As with all species, it is the destruction of their habitats that makes them vulnerable to extinction.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersSkippers Butterflies and Moths: Lepidoptera - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Lepidopterans And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE