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Hunt Underway For Super Rare Butterfly

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Adult male Schaus swallowtail butterfly (Source: Jaret C. Daniels/ University of Florida)

Adult male Schaus swallowtail butterfly (Source: Jaret C. Daniels/ University of Florida)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – WANTED: four female Schaus swallowtail butterflies for an emergency plan to repopulate the species.

On June 8, surveyors became worried when only three to five Schaus swallowtail butterflies were observed at Biscayne National Park during their flight season. This was a major decline from last year’s tally of 41.

“Only one of those counted this year was a female,” said Dr. Jaret Daniels, lead project researcher for the University of Florida.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not take the threat of a species being wiped off the face of the Earth lightly. It has teamed up with the University of Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and National Park Service for an emergency collection of up to four female Schaus Swallowtail butterflies in hopes of saving the species.

A crew of butterfly experts from UF has been authorized to temporarily confine up to four female butterflies in a mesh cage in a natural habitat. They will hopefully lay eggs on host plants which wil be collected daily. After four days the captured butterflies will be released.

Even with this plan in motion it does not mean they will be successful.

“Intervention doesn’t guarantee survival, but it does offer hope and puts us into a better position to save this species,” said Daniels.

In recent years the Schaus swallowtail population has declined because of habitat destruction, droughts, increased use of insecticides, hurricanes and illegal collection.

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