Baltimore Checkerspot Recovery Team

Get Involved: Help the Baltimore Checkerspot

1) Volunteer

One of the best ways to get involved is to volunteer for an established Baltimore Checkerspot Recovery Team (BCRT) partnering organization – we need your help! Organizations and agencies involved with the BCRT are listed below. Establishing new Baltimore checkerspot colonies is a significant undertaking that can involve propagating plants, rearing butterflies, planting turtlehead, building butterfly breeding enclosures, putting up deer fencing and removing invasive species from wetlands. BCRT members are struggling with how to do all of this work with limited time, money, and people, and would be grateful for your assistance!

Volunteers install a deer fence in Carroll County to protect newly planted turtlehead. (Photo by J. Frye)
Volunteers install a deer fence in Carroll County to
protect newly planted turtlehead. (Photo by J. Frye)

2) Collect Data

Report Baltimore checkerspot sightings to Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Often times, the presence of a Baltimore checkerspot butterfly leads to the discovery of a new colony – one we might not know about! If you see a Baltimore checkerspot, report it! Please visit our website on reporting rare species locations for more information and reporting forms. If possible, please snap a picture and forward it to us as well.

Finding candidate sites for wetland restoration activities is not necessarily an easy task. If you know of any sunny, wet meadows that support white turtlehead and might serve as potential restoration or introduction site in the Maryland Piedmont, let us know!

3) Education and Fundraising

Students can hold benefits to support Baltimore checkerspot conservation activities by raising money for host and nectar plants, deer fencing and supplies for building plant and butterfly rearing facilities. Students can even participate in growing nectar and turtlehead plants at their schools for habitat restoration projects. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts might consider undertaking a project assisting with restoration activities or building plant and butterfly rearing facilities. A list of host and nectar plants can be found on the Baltimore Checkerspot Fact Sheet page.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore also has designed a Baltimore Checkerspot Education Packet to guide educators on ways to teach about our State butterflies. In addition, we have several coloring pages that display the lifecycle of the Baltimore Checkerspot.

4) Advocate & Participate

Even small actions can mean a great deal if enough people are involved. Let your local representatives know that you care about the importance of preserving habitat for rare plants and animals. Support local conservation groups and efforts in your town or county. Consider joining a local conservation group, like the Washington Area Butterfly Club, or consider becoming a Master Naturalist. The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center is also looking for Baltimore Checkerspot stewards. Check out their page here for more information. Even informing your friends and family of the importance of butterfly conservation can help raise awareness.

Volunteers gather to help plant white turtlehead at a restoration site in Montgomery County (Photo by Denise Gibbs)
Volunteers gather to help plant white turtlehead at a
restoration site in Montgomery County (Photo by Denise Gibbs)

5) Restore Private Lands

Funding Opportunity: Maryland Department of Natural Resources Landowner Incentive Program

If you are considering Baltimore checkerspot restoration projects on privately-owned land, you may be able to receive funding through department’s Landowner Incentive Program (LIP). The Landowner Incentive Program provides assistance for habitat restoration activities only on privately-owned property, including residences, nonprofits, HOAs, farms, and businesses. Public land is not eligible. Approved activities may include: turtlehead planting, wetland restoration, and vegetation removal through prescribed grazing / chemical or manual removal / prescribed fire. (Rearing and releasing butterflies is not eligible.)

Click here for more information is on the Landowner Incentive Program.

One Note of Concern:

While many people support the conservation of the Baltimore checkerspot, you should not attempt to raise checkerspots on your own. Baltimore checkerspots have very specific habitat requirements and a complex life cycle. Rearing the larvae requires a tremendous commitment in time and resources that you may not be prepared to undertake on your own. In addition, most people lack the training and proper habitat conditions needed to successfully rear Baltimore checkerspots. Never collect caterpillars from the wild, as this will diminish the number of already fragile butterfly colonies that exist and will cause more harm than good. Many times even when an area looks like it will provide good habitat for butterflies, it may lack the proper soil, vegetation, or nectar and host plant resources. Without these resources the butterflies cannot survive.

The best way to become involved in helping
Baltimore checkerspots is through the BCRT.

Please contact the following BCRT partnering organizations for information on how you might get involved:

  • Anita C. Leight Estuary Center
  • Black Hill Regional Park
  • Carroll County Public Schools
  • Cromwell Valley Park
  • Eden Mill Nature Center
  • Fountain Rock Park and Nature Center
  • Harford Glen Environmental Education Center
  • MA & PA Trail
  • Maryland Entomological Society
  • Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
  • Robert E. Lee Park
  • Robinson Nature Center
  • Rocky Gap State Park
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • University of Colorado, CU Museum and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • Washington Area Butterfly Club
  • Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission