FWC, partners survey upper Keys, Biscayne National Park for endangered butterfly
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
Concern over the apparent decline of an endangered butterfly has
prompted biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) and others to organize intensive field surveys to
look for the Schaus' swallowtail butterfly in North Key Largo and
Biscayne National Park.
Once found in tropical hardwood hammocks from south Miami to the
lower Keys, Schaus' swallowtails (Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus)
are now limited to the upper Keys and Biscayne National Park. Adult
swallowtails have a very short life span, typically living for only
FWC biologists are coordinating a multiagency and
multiorganization effort to count adult Schaus' swallowtails.
Butterfly enthusiasts and volunteers with the North American
Butterfly Association and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory are
conducting the majority of the surveys. The National Park Service,
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection and the University of Florida are also
providing assistance and support.
"We've never had this many people surveying at one time," said
FWC regional biologist and project coordinator Ricardo Zambrano.
"The goal of the survey is to get an estimated count and
distribution of the individuals so the FWC and its partners can
identify actions needed to conserve the subspecies" of Heraclides
Surveyors are walking though trails in swallowtail habitat,
counting adult individuals and recording locations of where they
are observed. Surveys are occurring several times a week in both
The Schaus' swallowtail is a federally endangered and
state-threatened subspecies. A combination of factors, such as
habitat loss, pesticide use and illegal collection, are suspected
to be responsible for its decline. Weather events, including
hurricanes and droughts, also have adversely impacted the