The Bay Area’s Butterfly Whisperer Fights To Save A Species

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We’re living through a period of great collapse in the number of animal species worldwide. Among the threatened species is a San Francisco native butterfly, the California Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor hirsuta). Fortunately, we’re capable of meeting this threat.
One man decided to step up. Tim Wong, an aquatic biologist with the California Academy of Sciences, decided to build a habitat for this beautiful creature – in his own back yard. It took time.
The hardest part was getting clippings from the one plant these butterflies eat. But this is a story of initiative and perseverance paying off.
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Once a common sight, the California pipevine swallowtail butterfly had begun to be scarce. Many butterfly lovers feared the worst.
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Tim Wong , a Bay Area biologist, decided to take matters into his own hands.
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These creatures are specialists, eating only the California pipevine. So Wong built a greenhouse and acquired the plant. He planted the greenhouse in his own back yard.
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His greenhouse was set for just the right environment to make future butterflies thrive.
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Wong started off with just 20 caterpillars.
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They grew and matured day by day.
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Then, each caterpillar formed a tough chrysalis around itself till it emerged as a butterfly.
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Fast-forward three years. Wong’s home is a haven for butterflies, making San Francisco just a little brighter.
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‘Each year since 2012, we’ve seen more butterflies surviving in the garden, flying around, laying eggs, successfully pupating, and emerge the following year.’
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‘That’s a good sign that our efforts are working!’
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