strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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The Last Butterfly: An American Beauty Faces Extinction

Posted by Richard Conniff on June 7, 2013

Papilio aristodemus male (Photo: Jaret Daniels)

Papilio aristodemus male (Photo: Jaret Daniels)

The survival of a spectacular American species depends this week on a small band of volunteers wandering in the dense tropical hardwood hammock of the Florida Keys. Despite the heat and humidity, the searchers must wear heavy jackets, gloves, face masks, and other protective gear to keep off the swarming mosquitoes. It’s backcountry work, often knee-deep in the water, constantly scanning for Schaus’s swallowtail butterfly, a beautifully colored creature with a wingspan as big as a man’s hand, and which is now on the brink of extinction.

Since the emergency collecting effort began back in April, the searchers have found just a single adult, a female. They netted her two weeks ago on Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park and kept her there for four days in a special container, hoping she would produce a crop of up to 400 eggs. But rainy weather worked against them, and she yielded …  TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE CLICK HERE.

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