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SAVING THE CASEY’S JUNE BEETLE

Around twilight, Casey’s June beetles emerge from sandy soils near Palm Springs, California, to mate. Between late March and June, males fly swiftly above the ground searching for female beetles. But unfamiliar lights and disorienting bodies of water increasingly seem to interfere. With Southern California’s decades of explosive growth, male Casey’s June beetles are often found ensnared in suburban swimming pools or otherwise distracted by miles upon miles of artificial outdoor lighting.

The Center is committed to protecting the Southwest’s fragile desert habitats, home to an amazing array of unique species. The Casey’s June beetle is one such unique species, adapted to living in a handful of southern California’s arid alluvial plains. But habitat destruction due to urban, residential, and recreational development threatens the beetles. Dwindling numbers and vanishing habitat are key reasons why, in 2004, the Center and the Sierra Club petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an emergency listing for the species.

In 2007, the Service finally determined that the Casey’s June beetle merited protection under the Endangered Species Act — but instead of granting it, the agency put the beetle on the “candidate list” to await protection indefinitely. Fortunately, the agency came to its senses in 2009, not only proposing protection for the species but also proposing to grant it critical habitat. In 2011, though it still hadn’t finalized the beetle’s protection, the Center reached a landmark agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service compelling the agency to move forward on protection decisions for this and 756 other species. Just months later, the beetle was protected as endangered as well as granted 587 acres of critical habitat.

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KEY DOCUMENTS
2011 federal Endangered Species Act listing
2007 12-month petition finding
2007 review of candidate species
2006 90-day petition finding
2004 federal listing petition

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NATURAL HISTORY

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RELATED ISSUES
Golden State Biodiversity Initiative
Deserts
The Endangered Species Act

Contact: Ileene Anderson

Photo courtesy of Essig Museum of Entomology