How One Man Singlehandedly Repopulated a Rare Butterfly Species in His Backyard

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The California Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor hirsuta) is a locally rare butterfly within San Francisco. Now, thanks to California Academy of Sciences aquatic biologist, Tim Wong, the butterfly species is gradually repopulating in the area again.

The biologist built a greenhouse for the butterflies in his own backyard. It had all the perfect conditions for butterflies to grow – sunlight, temperature fluctuations, and an occasional nice breeze. He also learned that the butterflies only feed on one plant – the California pipevine (Aristolochia californica), which was pretty hard to track down. After a while, Wong found the plant in a botanical garden, which allowed him to take a few clippings of the plant. Once his butterfly paradise was built, Wong transported 20 caterpillars to it and let them grow. Now, around 3 years later, his butterfly home is thriving, and he’s not stopping yet!

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The California pipevine swallowtail butterfly was disappearing

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Until biologist Tim Wong decided to repopulate it in his back yard

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The butterflies only feed on one plant – the California pipevine, so Wong transplanted it into his yard

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He built a greenhouse that had all the perfect conditions for butterflies to grow

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Then brought in 20 caterpillars

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And they began their long process of maturation

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Where a caterpillar forms a chrysalis, until it finally turns into a butterfly

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Now, 3 years later, Wong’s butterfly home is thriving and San Francisco is seeing more of these butterflies every day

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“Each year since 2012, we’ve seen more butterflies surviving in the garden, flying around, laying eggs, successfully pupating, and emerge the following year,” said Wong

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“That’s a good sign that our efforts are working!”

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