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


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


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


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


Then brought in 20 caterpillars


And they began their long process of maturation


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


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


“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


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