Project Mission Blue

In 2011, CGCI members approved financial support for a new five year project in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks   Conservancy.  Funds are needed to propagate two species of lupine used as larval plants to assist increasing the population of the federally endangered Mission Blue butterfly.

What is the Mission Blue butterfly?

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.

What's being done?

  • 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.
    • For details click here
  • Habitat restoration:  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.
    • For details click here
A Mission Blue on a California Poppy
Photo by Margaret Goodall, taken at Milagra Ridge

Progress to date

How can I help?

  • Donations in any amount may be made by individuals (donors need not be members of a garden club), clubs or districts.
  • Donations in the amount of $100 will receive the CGCI Mission Blue pin.
  • Donation Form (The form can be completed electronically and saved to your computer.  Print a copy to mail with your check)
NOTE:  Through June 30, 2013 $12,304.00 has been donated.  Thank you!


Price Sheppy, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy &Julie West, CGCI President with the educational exhibit at the 2012 San Francisco Flower & Garden Show.