Silverspot butterfly resting on a flower
(Mirror Daily, United States) Butterflies are one of the most beautiful insects, with their fragile bodies, their colorful wings, and their stunning metamorphosis. Biologists and other people who get to work around them have plenty of reasons to consider themselves lucky. The zookeepers at Oregon Zoo are such people: they have released the last group of silverspot butterflies.
The silverspot butterfly is an endangered species. There are few individuals left and experts help them not to go extinct.
The Oregon Zoo is one of the institutions whose endeavor must be appreciated. They released 450 silverspot butterflies into the wild, into their natural environment. The first step was to take there the pupae, and make sure they are safe from predators. So, when the metamorphosis process is complete, the beautiful silverspot butterfly spreads its wings into its natural environment and finds itself at home.
Karen Lewis, one of the people who was there to witness the phenomenon, and also helped the zookeepers, talked about how it feels so be surrounded by so many silverspot butterflies at the same time:
“It was the perfect time of year to be out there, right in the middle of the flight season. Adult silverspots were flying all around us and flitting across the meadows.”
Researchers say that silverspot butterflies only live for fourteen days. This is the time they have to grow, mate and lay eggs. Of course, once they come out of their pupae and soar to the sky, there is nothing that can assure the specialists that all individuals will survive and not fall prey to enemies such as birds. Silverspots are mostly attracted by purple flowers.
Oregon Live reports on the great teamwork at the zoo, and how their efforts benefit the endangered species:
“The Oregon Zoo has been a leader in silverspot recovery efforts, with its program dating back to the late 90s. Every year, experts collect female butterflies from Mount Hebo and bring them back to the zoo so they can lay eggs in a conservation lab.”
Karen Lewis hopes there will come a time when silverspots will not need help from humans anymore:
“The goal of the recovery program is to help each population grow large enough to be self-sustaining. If it weren’t for this program, three of the five remaining silverspot populations would likely be extinct.”
How about you? Have you ever spotted a silverspot butterfly?
Image source: Wikipedia