A Single Man’s Efforts Brought Back One Butterfly Species From Near Extinction

Tim Wong has always been an animal lover, but he never thought he would be responsible for saving an entire species.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

The San Francisco-based aquatic biologist has always had a passion for butterflies. After some research, the butterfly enthusiast discovered something about the California pipevine swallowtail. This butterfly, known for its iridescent sapphire wings, was rapidly declining in population. Wong knew he had to his part to help this species continue to exist.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Since he was a child, Wong had been raising butterflies and knew exactly what they needed to thrive. So, he decided to create a space for the California pipevine swallowtail to have a safe place to enjoy nectar and repopulate.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Throughout the whole process, Wong documented every step of the process and his photographs are beautiful. From the pictures of the butterflies’ preferred choice of the flower, the California pipevines (hence, the name) to the butterflies beautiful metamorphosis, the images tell a beautiful story.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

One photo in particular shows just how big of a difference Wong was making. One specific shot shows Wong’s hand covered with the signature black and orange spotted caterpillars that will soon become California pipevine swallowtails.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Wong says it all started by bringing home 20 of the caterpillars and allowing them to get comfortable in the custom-made greenhouse. It is extremely interesting because the caterpillars can stay in the cocoon from two weeks to two years, so Wong had no idea what would happen next.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

However, the end result of an adult California pipevine swallowtail is absolutely beautiful.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Wong said that his project resulted in thousands of these endangered butterflies and many of them were taken to the San Francisco botanical garden. The hobbyist butterfly enthusiast’s project ended up being one of the most successful projects since the 1980’s.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Wong says the best way to help out your local butterfly population is to plant their favorite plants in your backyard.

Photo credit: Tim Wong

Photo credit: Tim Wong

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