I Can Has Cheezburger?

Aquatic Biologist From San Francisco Repopulates Rare Butterfly Species in His Own Backyard

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    The disappearing Pipevine Swallowtail

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    The California pipevine swallowtail, once found in abundance in the San Francisco area long ago lost their habitat due to city development and almost disappeared. . 

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    The life cycle of this butterfly starts with little red eggs laid on plant stems and leaves. Then, when ready, the eggs crack and the black caterpillar with orange spots emerge. Eventually, these little guys will be turning into a stunning butterfly with a deep blue color. 

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    Introducing Tim Wong

    Tim Wong, an aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, is known as the "butterfly whisperer" which he credits to his deep love for nature. His Instagram account demonstrates just how caring Tim is with all animals and insects, ranging from penguins, owls, snakes, lizards, and, of course, butterflies. 

    When Tim was in elementary school, he was amazed at the metamorphosis process of caterpillars becoming butterflies and right then his passion for butterfly was born. 

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    Learning how to care for them

    When Tim learned about the nearly extinct California pipevine swallowtail, he decided to do something about it and return this beautiful butterfly back to the city of San Francisco. From there, he did thorough research and found out that when the pipevine swallowtail is in the caterpillar stage, it would only eat the California pipevine plant that had almost nearly been demolished in the region.

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    DIY butterfly haven

    Thankfully, Tim found the plant at the San Francisco Botanical Garden and asked the garden experts to give him a few clippings for his project. Now with the plant on hand, Tim built a DIY greenhouse in his backyard, Using the plant, recreating the butterfly's natural environment.

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    An experiment that started with only 20 caterpillars resulted in thousands of the rare California pipevine swallowtail! Tim has since already introduced them into the San Francisco Botanical Garden. He has also managed to grow more than 200 California pipevine plants to make the butterflies he breeds feel at home!

    This means that there is a good chance that one day these butterflies will rebound in the city again. "Each year since 2012, we've seen more butterflies surviving in the garden, flying around, laying eggs, successfully pupating, and emerging the following year," says Tim. "That's a good sign that our efforts are working!"

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    "Came home to this beautiful male California Pipevine Swallowtail"

    Tim Wong proves that ANYONE can contribute to helping the environment and saving wildlife, even from their own backyards. Take some steps today and plant some flowers and/or a tree favored by local animals and insects. You can make a huge difference.


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