Here’s a guy who didn’t just ring his hands when he learned that a magnificent butterfly species was endangered in his part of California; he decided to do something about it.
Zachary Crockett reports at Vox, “It begins its life as a tiny red egg, hatches into an enormous orange-speckled caterpillar, and then — after a gestation period of up to two years — emerges as an iridescent blue beauty. Brimming with oceanic tones, the creature’s wings are considered by collectors to be some of the most magnificent in North America.
“For centuries, the California pipevine swallowtail — or, Battus philenor hirsuta — called San Francisco home. As development increased in the early 20th century, the butterfly slowly began to disappear. Today it is a rare sight.
“But one man’s DIY efforts are starting to bring the butterfly back.”
Tim Wong, a 28-year-old aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, tells Crockett, ” ‘I first was inspired to raise butterflies when I was in elementary school … We raised painted lady butterflies in the classroom, and I was amazed at the complete metamorphosis from caterpillar to adult.’ …
“Years later, he learned about the pipevine swallowtail — which had become increasingly rare in San Francisco — and he made it his personal mission to bring the butterfly back.
“He researched the butterfly and learned that when in caterpillar form, it only feeds on one plant: the California pipevine (Aristolochia californica), an equivalently rare flora in the city.
” ‘Finally, I was able to find this plant in the San Francisco Botanical Garden [in Golden Gate Park],’ Wong says. ‘And they allowed me to take a few clippings of the plant.’
“Then in his own backyard, using self-taught techniques, he created a butterfly paradise.”
Read more here. It sure takes persistence.
Here’s hoping an elementary school project in 2016 will lead to the rescue of another endangered species down the road.
Photo: Tim Wong (@timtast1c)