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Butterfly Species Nearly Goes Extinct - This 'Butterfly Whisperer' Single Handedly Saved Them
Thank you, Tim!
Ashley Brewer
11.02.17

Tim Wong has been studying butterflies since he was a kid. It’s no wonder that he is now known as the “Butterfly Whisperer.”

Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram

Tim Wong is a biologist, beekeeper, butterfly habitat volunteer, horticulturist, and naturalist. As if that wasn’t impressive enough — his love of butterflies helped repopulate a species that had completely disappeared from San Francisco. And he did it all in his backyard.

The California Pipevine Swallowtail is a butterfly that had once thrived in San Francisco but eventually vanished. After the 28-year-old biologist learned that this locally rare butterfly only feeds on one plant, the California pipevine, he was determined to revitalize their population.

Wong tracked down the hard-to-find plant in a botanical garden. The biologist took it home and built a greenhouse in his backyard.

Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram

The greenhouse contained all of the perfect conditions for the butterfly species to thrive. Wong then gathered 20 pipevine swallowtail caterpillars and placed them in the outdoor enclosure. It was now time for the caterpillars to make their slow transformation to butterflies.

The caterpillars would soon form cocoons and becomes a chrysalis. In as little as two weeks, a beautiful butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis. Although, in some butterfly species, the maturation process can take up to an entire year.

Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram
Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram
Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram

Soon, the butterflies numbers began to multiply. Within three years, Wong repopulated this once-rare butterfly species in the San Francisco area.

Now, Wong brings dozens of caterpillars San Francisco Botanical Garden’s “California Native” exhibit where the species can continue to thrive.

“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!”

Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram
Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram

Although the pipevine swallowtail isn’t technically endangered, the species had vanished completely from the San Francisco area and was disappearing throughout California.

Due to development across the state, the beautiful butterfly species had no vegetation to eat, therefore, it had no chance of survival. The caterpillars that Wong was able to collect were from private residents that lived in more rural, vegetative areas.

Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram

Even though butterfly breeding isn’t Wong’s only passion, it’s certainly one that has paid off in spades. His incredible efforts have given him the well-earned title of Butterfly Whisperer across social media.

Thanks to the Butterfly Whisperer’s passion for nature, the butterfly species is once again thriving.

Tim Wong via Instagram
Source:
Tim Wong via Instagram

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By Ashley Brewer
hi@sbly.com
Ashley Brewer is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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