facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Single female could be last hope for butterfly species

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   June 3, 2013 at 4:12 PM   |   Comments

The fate of an endangered butterfly species in the Florida Keys may rest on the only female Schaus swallowtail to be spotted in a year, and a handful of caterpillars captured in Biscayne National Park.

University of Florida researchers are hoping their specialized breeding program can bring the species back from the brink of extinction -- for the second time.

The university began the Schaus swallowtail breeding program in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew wiped out much of the species' tropical hardwood habitat.

Thousands of butterflies were released into the wild over the next four years, but the population dropped again over the next two decades as their habitat continued to decrease through a series of droughts.

University researchers, volunteers, and state and federal wildlife agencies conducted surveys and found only four of the butterflies in the wild last year. UF was issued an emergency permit last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so researchers could collect eggs.

One technician netted a female Schaus swallowtail in Biscayne National Park on Elliott Key, the only such find. Field researchers collected a single egg, which she laid May 23 before being released the next day.

Mark Salvato, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service called the find "a breakthrough." The larva that hatched was taken to Gainesville last week, where it will join several other Schaus swallowtail larvae collected from the Keys.

“This single female could help bring the Schaus back from the brink,” said Jaret Daniels, professor in UF’s Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate curator of lepidoptera at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Earth's magnetic field may soon flip, according to new data Earth's magnetic field may soon flip, according to new data
2
Study: Fish just wanna have fun Study: Fish just wanna have fun
3
An ancient tsunami wrecked Hawaii; it could happen again An ancient tsunami wrecked Hawaii; it could happen again
4
Deforestation in the Amazon has increased 190 percent, satellites show Deforestation in the Amazon has increased 190 percent, satellites show
5
Japanese man who 3D printed guns sentenced to two years in prison Japanese man who 3D printed guns sentenced to two years in prison
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback