Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

This Guy Just Revived a Butterfly Species in His Backyard

Animals

By Susan Bird

One person can't make a big difference in the world by himself, right? If you believe that, it's time to adjust your attitude. Tim Wong just proved you wrong. He has successfully begun repopulating a rare butterfly species—and he did it in his spare time, in his backyard.

Instagram / @timtast1c

Wong is an aquatic biologist by trade, employed by the California Academy of Sciences. These days, people are starting to call him the "Butterfly Whisperer." That's not far from the truth. Butterflies are Wong's off-duty passion. He's loved them since he was a boy. When he discovered one particularly beautiful type had essentially disappeared from the San Francisco area, he wanted to do something about it.

The complete life cycle of the California Pipevine Swallowtail in the palm of Wong's hand.Instagram / @timtast1c

The California Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor hirsuta) is native to central California. Once, it was a common and beautiful sight flying gracefully about the San Francisco area, but no more.

The problem is that the California Pipevine Swallowtail is a picky eater and a touchy breeder. As a caterpillar, it really only likes one plant to eat—the equally hard to find California Pipevine, also known as Dutchman's Pipe. As an adult, it only wants to lay its eggs on that same plant. If there aren't any pipevine plants, females fly around looking for them until they die.

Wong needed pipevine plants to have any shot at breeding these butterflies and he had a hard time locating any. Fortunately, he got some valuable assistance.

"Finally, I was able to find this plant in the San Francisco Botanical Garden [in Golden Gate Park]," Wong told Vox. "And they allowed me to take a few clippings of the plant." Wong took those clippings and transplanted them in his own do-it-yourself butterfly spa.

Tim Wong's butterfly enclosure.Instagram / @timtast1c

"[I built] a large screen enclosure to protect the butterflies and to allow them to mate under outdoor environmental conditions—natural sun, airflow, temp fluctuations," Wong told Vox. "The specialized enclosure protects the butterflies from some predators, increases mating opportunities and serves as a study environment to better understand the criteria female butterflies are looking for in their ideal host plant."

Wong found his first 20 candidate caterpillars from private area homes willing to donate them to his effort. He set them free in his butterfly enclosure among his transplanted pipevine plants and let them go on an eating spree.

Watch a news report about Wong and his butterflies here:

Now, Wong said he has 200 pipevine plants. Even better, he said he's bred thousands of Pipevine Swallowtails in his butterfly haven. When they mature, he takes them to the San Francisco Botanical Garden's "California Native" exhibit to live out their lives with food aplenty.

All this is a lot of work. It takes up a great deal of Wong's spare time, but he's a committed man. The hard work is clearly paying off. If you want to keep track of Wong and his efforts, follow him on Instagram at @timtast1c.

If you live in or near San Francisco, consider planting some pipevine plants in your yard. Help Tim Wong get this gorgeous butterfly species to rebound. Wouldn't it be exciting to play a direct part in keeping these lovely little creatures from disappearing from the city forever?

"Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do," Wong told Vox. "Conservation and stewardship can start in your very own backyard."

Hats off to Tim Wong. He saw a need and he stepped up to meet it. One man can make an enormous difference if he puts his heart and soul into that goal. So can you.

Now that you know it's true, what are you waiting for?

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less