Imperiled Butterflies of South Florida

Imperiled Butterflies of...

Imperiled Butterflies of South Florida

with Frank Ridgley DVM, Zoo/Wildlife Veterinarian for Zoo Miami's Conservation & Research Department

Do you live in the Miami area and want to help our local imperiled butterflies? If so, we have teamed up with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens Connect to Protect Network to develop this Miami specific plant guide to help you. These are all native, low maintenance plants that are important host plant and/or nectar sources for our local species of butterflies. Butterflies need plants and we need you to make these choices for your property to help them survive and thrive. Click on the image to download a PDF.


New Faithful Beauty Paper!

We just published a life history paper on the faithful beauty moth! It’s scientific name is Composia fidelissima. While researching this species, we found literature from the 1800’s that helped differentiate the subspecies between individuals in South Florida, C. fidelissima vagrans and the Cuban region, C. fidelissima fidelissima. These slight differences in appearance are hard to see to the untrained eye and it makes for a good exercise of “can you spot the difference?” while waiting at the doctor’s office. Entomologists that wrote the original description of the species only noted one native host plant but we observed the faithful beauty caterpillars consuming 4 new native host plants! A hungry, hungry caterpillar will eat and eat until it molts or sheds. This event is called an instar and after shedding it goes back to eating. All butterflies and moths go through these events in their life cycle. When the caterpillar sheds its skin, it allows the individual to grow bigger. We found that some individuals went through 5 instars while other individuals went through 6 instars. Why is there a difference within the same species? We don’t know but we can guess that maybe it’s because of predators. Speaking of big bad guys, the faithful beauty moth also emits yellow foam straight out of its head to deter predators from consuming them. The faithful beauty is not listed as threatened or endangered but the habitat that it lives in is globally imperiled. It's important to conduct life history research on animals and plants in case the need arises for conservation work.

Posted by Frank Ridgley at 14:04

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