One man, a blue butterfly and a backyard

Sept 2019—That’s all it took to bring back a species from the brink. Tim Wong noticed that the population of the California swallowtail pipevine butterfly was falling as San Francisco developed. So he got some cuttings of their favorite food, found some caterpillars in the neighborhood and built an enclosure for them.

Thanks to Wong’s conservation efforts, the butterflies are now thriving. “Each year since 2012, we’ve seen more butterflies surviving in the garden, flying around, laying eggs, successfully pupating, and emerge the following year,” Wong said. “That’s a good sign that our efforts are working!” The butterflies normally emerge from their chrysalis in the spring, and are seen flapping their bright blue wings between February to October. They normally have a lifespan of two to five weeks. 

It’s proof of that one person with a passion can make a difference.

What he did is different from people who buy butterfly larvae for events. It’s become popular to release butterflies at weddings. But unless the species live in the area and have available their food and plants to place their eggs, they will just die unfulfilled.

Darcy HitchcockConservation