Palm Springs, Calif.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule Wednesday protecting Casey’s June beetle as an endangered species and designating 587 acres of critical habitat for it in Riverside County, Calif. Known only from the Palm Canyon area of Palm Springs, the beetle is critically endangered by urban development. The Center for Biological Diversity, entomologist David Wright and the Sierra Club petitioned to protect the beetle in 2004. Wednesday’s final rule is the result of a landmark legal settlement between the Center and the Service that will expedite protection for 757 imperiled species across the country.
“We’re excited that this unique California beetle now has the Endangered Species Act protection it needs to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center. “Endangered Species Act protection with critical habitat designation is the most effective tool we have for saving species from extinction.”
Once thought to occur from Palm Springs to Indian Wells in the Coachella Valley, the species now survives in only two populations in a small area in the southern part of Palm Springs. Remaining habitat consists of just 800 acres scattered in nine isolated fragments, primarily on private lands, and is actively shrinking due to the rapid pace of development.
“Clearly, habitat protection is the most important conservation measure for the Casey’s June beetle,” said Curry. “This announcement recognizes the dire straits of this scarab beetle, which is found nowhere else in the world, and gives it the habitat protection it needs to continue to exist.”
Background on the Species
Casey’s June beetles are medium-sized June beetles (June beetles are named after their tendency to fly in late spring evenings), about one to two inches long, and dusty brown or whitish with longitudinal stripes. Their reddish-brown antennae are clubbed, as is common in scarab beetles, with ends consisting of a series of leaf-like plates that can be held together or fanned out to sense scents. Adults emerge from holes in the ground to mate in late March through June. Females have rarely been found, and always on the ground rather than in flight. Males fly swiftly over the ground from about one hour before dusk to shortly after dark to look for females.
Contact Info: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681
Website : Center for Biological Diversity