- Habitat: Typically above 10,000 feet in elevation
- Lifespan: Live two to four weeks as adults
- Distribution: Do not disperse over large areas
- Population: Declining at their known Sierra Nevada sites
Yosemite National Park’s rare alpine butterflies flutter at the highest of elevations, where conditions can be extreme. The Sierra Nevada Parnassian butterfly, for instance, is associated with stonecrop growing high in granitic rock gardens.
Approximately 60 species of butterflies choose to live with cold winters and short summers at 10,000 feet and higher for one reason: food. In fact, approximately 35 of the 60 species are found exclusively in the high alpine area because they need alpine plants as egg laying sites and food sources for larvae. (View a list of all of Yosemite’s butterflies.) Scientists believe food sources for alpine butterflies and other alpine animals might be affected by climate change. Climate can affect plant life which, in turn, can affect animal life. Although it is not yet clear how alpine butterflies in Yosemite are responding to climate change, they are a well studied insect group in the park.