HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – An effort to save an endangered species of butterflies from becoming extinct has so far been successful—and now the butterflies and larvae have been released in their natural habitat.

The endangered Schaus’ Swallowtail Butterflies were released into their natural habitat on Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park. Elliott Key is the only place the Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies can be found.

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A collection and captive breeding operation, which was started in 2012, has shown success so far as over a thousand over a thousand butterfly larvae were produced at the University of Florida.

“All of this is great news, considering where this species was two years ago,” said Jaret Daniels, lead UF researcher. “The initial success of the captive breeding program kindles hope for the recovery of the species.”

The collection and breeding operation is the result of a collaborative multi-agency effort over the past three years to prevent the extinction of the species.

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The butterflies are dark brown with yellow markings and a broad rusty patch underneath the hind wing. Adults have a wingspan of 3.25-3.75 inches.

Conservation and monitoring efforts for the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly are being coordinated by cooperating agencies including USFWS, UF, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Park Service, the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

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