Project Mission Blue

Note:   This project is now complete.
Phase I (2011-2016): donations = $16,896
Phase II (2016-2021): donations = $6,278

Total donations:   $23,174 – THANK YOU!

CGCI Chairman:   Julie West,


In 2016, CGCI members approved extending the financial support for an additional five years in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Funds raised will continue to support the propagation of two species of lupine used as larval plants to assist in increasing the population of the federally endangered Mission Blue butterfly. Phase II includes propagating and planting twelve California native nectar plants.

The mission blue butterfly (Icaricia icariodes missionensis) is a unique subspecies of Boiduval s blue butterfly that was first discovered in San Francisco in 1937.Light iridescent blue and roughly the size of a quarter, the mission blue is a native of Bay Area grasslands that contain at least one of its three host plants: the silver lupine, the summer lupine, and the varied lupine.With most of its grassland habitat lost to development, the mission blue became one of the first insects added to the federal endangered species list in 1976.

Today, mission blue butterflies survive only in parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Twin Peaks, and San Bruno Mountain. Within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area mission blues can be found in the Marin Headlands, and at Milagra and Sweeney Ridges, but their populations are small and isolated, leaving them particularly vulnerable to random events.

Their grassland habitat and lupine host plants are also threatened, primarily by invasions of non-native trees and plants and by a lack of natural disturbances such as grazing and fire that would normally prevent scrubland from taking over the landscape. Additional ongoing threats to the mission blue s survival include poaching, trampling, and climate change.>/P

  • Monitoring:   Monitoring mission blues to detect trends in their abundance, distribution, and phenology (e.g. the timing of their flight season) helps to understand how these trends are affected by various conditions and identify where and when intervention is appropriate.


    • Phase I:   Growing and planting the lupines will not only preserve the habitat but also meet the secondary goals of fostering interest in gardening and plant nurseries and promoting environmental awareness and community engagement.


    • Phase II:   Propagating and planting twelve California native nectar plants: Coast Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium); California Phacelia (Phacelia californica); Checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora); Yarrow (Achillea millefolium); Blue-Eyed Grass (Sysyrinchium bellum); Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum); Ithuriel s Spear (Triteleia laxa); Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa); Golden Aster (Heteotheca sessiflora bolanderi); California Horkelia (Horkelia californica); Narrow-Leaved Mule Ears (Wyethia angustifolia) and Brownie Thistle (Cirsium quercetorum) that adult mission blue butterflies use as nectar sources and ensures suitable habitat exists in between patches of host larval Lupines.


  • Progress reports:
  • Additional resources


  Mission blue butterfly project volunteer   Mission blue butterfly project volunteer   Mission blue butterfly photo   Mission blue butterfly photo   Mission blue butterfly photo

Photos (L-R): 1: Lupine patch;   2. Planting;   3. Gathering weather data (by Jessica Weinberg); 4. Female on Coast Buckwheat (by Jessica Weinberg); 5. Male on Silver Lupine (by Jessica Weinberg); 6. Mission Blue on California Poppy (by Margaret Goodall, taken at Milagra Ridge)