Saving a Rare, Ocean-Blue Butterfly, One Little Beauty at a Time…

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California pipevine butterfly adults are beautiful shades of blue. Photo: Tim Wong.

 

Ocean biologist and California resident, Tim Wong is single-handedly helping to save a beautiful species of butterfly once native to San Francisco.

The California pipevine butterfly is named for the pipevine plant on which it lays its tiny orange eggs (sometimes as few as 5 of them). It’s also the only plant that it’s striking Halloween-colored caterpillars will eat.

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Females lay 5-30 eggs on stems of the pipevine plant. Photo: Tim Wong.

 

Once common in the area, human development has caused these butterflies to dwindle in number.

Tim grew up raising butterflies. And now, he is raising California pipevine butterflies, in a homemade enclosure on his property.

He learned they were rare; so, he found clippings of the pipevine plant at the local Botanic Gardens, built the enclosure, and began to cultivate the plant.

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The butterfly enclosure. Photo: Tim Wong.

 

Tim then collected a handful of “later-growth-stage” California pipevine caterpillars from neighbors’ yards (with their permission), and nurtured them through the pupa stage until they became adult butterflies.

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“Later-growth-stage” California pipevine caterpillars. Photo: Tim Wong.

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The 7 Stages of a California pipevine butterfly’s Development. Photo: Tim Wong.

 

And the rest, as they say, is “history”. You can read Tim’s story in detail at Vox.com, here:

 

http://www.vox.com/2016/7/6/12098122/california-pipevine-swallowtail-butterfly-population?xid=soc_socialflow_facebook_realsimple

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Adult California pipevine butterflies are flourishing because of the passion and dedication of one person. The future of the species looks very promising. Photo: by Tim Wong.

(Photos: Instagram)

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