About Them: These are a small blue butterfly which used to range the lower half of Florida and now only reside in Key West within the US. They have also been seen in islands of the Caribbean Islands, but are rare even there. They rely on the Grey Nickerbean plant for food as do a few other Blue Butterflies all in the family Lycaenidae.
Their plight: A wide array of issues have caused this butterfly to lose its population. Spraying for mosquitos, habitat loss and fragmentation via human development/urban sprawl, non-native species, such as the green iguana, which eat the plants the butterflies rely on for food, and with such limited populations one bad hurricane can wipe out the remaining colony. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew wiped out the only known population in Key Biscayne.
What we should consider: When you live in a rural area or any area that seems to have plenty of wildlife to it consider if the plants you see are native. Take a moment to count how many butterflies, bees, or birds you see. If these numbers are low the ecosystem you are around is probably suffering. It is easy to believe things are fine if you see green.
We are in a serious battle with mosquitos. It has become very common for insecticides to be sprayed throughout human populated areas. This does not only harm mosquitos it harms all insects. Insects are the base of the animal food chain. We need to consider alternatives to spraying as our means of controlling mosquito populations.
Do NOT release unwanted exotic pets into the wild. Most places are not safe habitat for the animal, it will most likely die. If it does not it is almost certainly going to cause trouble for the native species.
What is being done: When the latest population was found a year occurred with a healthy enough population to gather some eggs for captive breeding through the Florida Museum of Natural History. They are attempting to release some back into the wild.
The Miami Blue was finally placed on the Federal Endangered Species Act in 2012 after repeated efforts from the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). They were able to get Florida to list them on the State Endangered Species list in 2002. These listings help provide funding for recovery and research.
Capture programs for the green iguanas are being implemented.
How to help: Plant native plant gardens. This helps to mitigate human development by still providing habitat for native insects and animals.
Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.
Support can be:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs: https://www.uff.ufl.edu/give-now/?fund_id=019481&appeal=G4SOQA1
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration project
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.
Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]