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Endangered Schaus Butterflies Having Their Best Season In Decades

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

South Florida’s very rare Schaus swallowtail butterfly is expected to have its best year in decades, thanks to conservation efforts.

“All the indications are that when the spring season ends, we will have seen more than a thousand individuals. That has not happened in decades.”

Jaret Daniels is a curator at the University of Florida’s McGuire Center. He oversees UF’s captive butterfly breeding program.

The Schaus has nearly disappeared twice as it struggled with disappearing habitat wiped out by South Florida’s sprawling development. It is the only swallowtail on the endangered species list.

“This butterfly is in trouble because of humans. And so it seems like we…should do everything we can…to support it. We shouldn’t just have a cavalier attitude that we can just lose one more organism to extinction. Because if you take that attitude, then where does it end?”

Daniels expects to have a final count for the season by September, when the butterflies complete their second flight for the year.

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