FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 11, 2004
Endangered Species Act Protection Needed for Casey’s June Beetle: Extinction is Likely Without Emergency Measures
Contact: David Wright, entomologist (916) 739-8906
Palm Springs, CA – Entomologist David Wright, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club called upon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide emergency Endangered Species Act protection for the Casey’s June beetle (Dinacoma caseyi Blaisdell). The petition submitted to the agency on Tuesday explains in detail how the June beetle – named for its tendency to fly in late spring evenings – is in imminent danger of extinction throughout its entire range.
Once thought to occur from Palm Springs to Indian Wells, only two populations of the Casey’s June beetle remain, both in a small area in the southern part of Palm Springs. Remaining habitat within its range consists of just 600 acres scattered in nine isolated fragments, and is actively declining due to the rapid pace of urban development in the area.
“Unless we take immediate action to preserve its habitat, Casey’s June beetle is history,” stated David Wright, an entomologist and primary author of the petition. “This is a sign that virtually all the flat, wind-protected ‘coves’ in the Coachella Valley have been paved over with golf courses and homes, and there is virtually no native desert left,” he added. “Without emergency listing, the species could easily be extinct or unable to be feasibly recovered in the time required for a normal listing process,” added Monica Bond of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The combination of only two populations, a very small range, and little remaining habitat within the range makes the species highly susceptible to extinction. In addition, the Casey’s June beetle occurs primarily on private lands undergoing rapid urban development, and existing regulations have utterly failed to protect the species from near extinction.
The petition outlines specific threats that have let to the extreme endangerment of the Casey’s June beetle, including but not limited to:
Description – Casey’s June beetles are medium-sized June beetles (June beetles are named after their tendency to fly in late spring evenings), 1.4 to 1.8 cm (0.55 to 0.71 inches) in length, dusty brown or whitish in color with appearance of brown and whitish longitudinal stripes on the elytra. Their reddish-brown antennae are clubbed, as is common to scarab beetles. The clubbed ends consist of a series of leaf-like plates that can be held together, or fanned out to sense scents. Most of the body has a covering of whitish scales, supplemented on much of the head, thorax and ventral surfaces with fine white hairs.
Reproduction – Adults emerge from holes in the ground to mate in late March through June, peaking usually in mid to late May. Females have rarely been found, and always on the ground, not in flight. The males fly swiftly over the ground from about one hour before dusk to shortly after dark, sometimes in a searching pattern, to look for females. Females emerge from the ground near dusk and either remain at the end of their “burrows” or crawl over the ground. As dusk progresses, females turn downward in the burrow entrance and extend the tip of their abdomen slightly above the burrow opening, presumably exuding a pheromone that the males use to find them. After mating, the female retreats down her emergence hole, or digs a new hole. Females deposit eggs within damp sand at varying depths, commonly 5 to 20 cm or more below the dry sand/wet sand interface. The damp sand provides consistent temperatures and humidity that prevents dessication of eggs and larvae.
For a copy of the petition, contact Monica Bond at email@example.com
The Sierra Club's members are more than 700,000 of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit, public interest environmental organization dedicated to the protection of native species and their habitats through science, policy, and environmental law. The Center has over 9,000 members throughout California and the United States.
David Wright is an ecologist and consultant with a background in entomology.