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Butterfly decline signals trouble in environment

Butterflies are the essence of cool in the insect world, a favorite muse for poets and songwriters, who hold them up as symbols of love, beauty, transformation and good fortune.

But providing good fortune apparently goes only one way. As humans rip apart woods and meadows for housing developments and insecticide-soaked lawns, butterflies across the country are disappearing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that two brown, mothlike butterfly subspecies are probably extinct in South Florida, which some entomologists say is ground zero for the number of butterfly species on the verge of annihilation.

The rockland grass skipper went missing in 1999, and the Zestos skipper hasn’t been seen since 2004. Several other species, such as the ebony-and-ivory-colored Schaus swallowtail, are listed as endangered, and many others are threatened, including the silvery Bartram’s hairstreak.

“We look at it as a signal that we’ve got a serious problem with butterflies and other insects and pollinators here in Florida,” said Larry Williams, a supervisor for the ecological services program at the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We’re looking at this as sort of a wake-up call that we need to be watching butterflies more closely.”

Quoted from The Washington Post

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Franklin, NC

Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 30, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Jean Gregory Evans
    • Camera: Canon PowerShot SX20 IS
    • Taken on 2010/07/29 15:44:35
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/400)
    • Focal Length: 100.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.700
    • ISO Speed: ISO80
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash