Florida wildlife managers on Wednesday declared the Miami blue butterfly an endangered species.
The tiny Miami blue butterfly, which once ranged from the Florida Keys to Daytona Beach, has been reduced to a few hundred survivors on islands off Key West. Its decline has been blamed on an array of threats, including pesticide spraying, development in its coastal habitat and exotic iguanas eating the plants it needs to reproduce.
Photo taken from and more information available at: Miami Blue Butterfly: Disappears in Keys
A small regional population of Miami Blues essentially disappeared after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 shredded South Florida. Many butterfly scientists – lepidopterologists – concluded the species had gone extinct.
Then came the 1999 surprise when the colony of three to four dozen Miami Blues was found on the earthen approach to the old Bahia Honda Bridge, inside the state park.
In 2003, the Miami Blue butterfly was named to Florida’s endangered species list. No animal has been added since.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2005 acknowledged the Miami Blue merits federal endangered status, says a report from the Center for Biological Diversity, but the federal agency said “lack of funding prevented measures from being taken, and the species has been condemned to the ‘warranted but precluded’ list ever since.”
An update of yet another species threatened. See the prior post of June 13, 2012, Butterfly on the brink - Miami-Dade - MiamiHerald.com. Interested readers will learn that Decades ago, hundreds of Schaus swallowtails — hand-sized butterflies with brown-black wings accented by swirls of yellow – would typically be in the area called Petrel Point at this time of year, slowly flitting along trail edges and around the torchwood and wild lime trees that are prime “host plants” where they lay their eggs.
Last year, 35 were spotted on Elliott, another six in Key Largo. This year, they’re even fewer and very far between – five sightings overall since May 11, only three confirmed.
Why are butterflies important? Many sources state that butterflies are the second most important insects in your yard (Bees are number one). Butterflies are a crucial indicator of the health of any ecosystem.