New Colony of Miami Blue Butterflies Found
By Paula Cannon
In November 2006, I discovered a new colony of the state endangered Miami Blue butterfly on Boca Grande. Since that time, we have searched many other islands thoroughly for more Miami Blue butterfly colonies.
We discovered Miami Blue colonies on eight islands total, including the offshore islands of the Marquesas. This is exciting news since the butterfly was reduced to only a very small colony on Bahia Honda and no other colonies were known to exist.
Our research continued through July 2007. Many counts were performed to get a baseline on what the average numbers were throughout the year and these numbers proved to be everything from extremely high to virtually nonexistent depending on the time of year.
We also discovered what plants were important to the butterfly as both host and food sources, as well as other insects that play a role in the life of the Miami blue. It is uncertain what the future holds for this fragile little butterfly no larger then a fingernail.
Their habitat was greatly disturbed by hurricane Wilma; many of their important host plants were killed by storm surge.
Even so, this butterfly still managed to survive somehow. The islands in which they were found are not subject to harmful chemicals sprayed by Mosquito Control or prescribed burning - both of which can be harmful, especially to locally isolated butterflies species.
We will continue to monitor their status in coming months and compare the data we gathered over the past year to future findings to give us a better idea of their life cycle and population stability.
Many thanks to FAVOR and Audubon for helping to fund this study, and special thanks to Tom Wilmers and Katie Lyons for their many hours of tireless help.
See also: http://miamiblue.org/