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Revival of the blues

University of Florida scientists are trying to bring back the Miami blue butterfly.

By Associated Press
Published May 28, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE - The Miami blue butterfly, barely as big as a quarter, once ranged from Key West to Orlando.

It began to disappear in the 1980s and was thought to be extinct.

Urban development, mosquito spraying and the decline of native ants that had protected it probably led to the butterfly's demise.

But now a project led by University of Florida scientists may revive the butterfly.

Hurricane Andrew was thought to have swept away the last colonies from islands in Biscayne Bay in 1992. But in 1999, an amateur butterfly enthusiast found a group of them at Bahia Honda State Park.

UF scientists got permission to take eggs and establish a laboratory colony in Gainesville while waiting for federal and state permission to release some to the wild.

On Wednesday, using forceps and artists' brushes, scientists transferred about 500 half-inch to four undisclosed sites in Everglades and Biscayne national parks.

If the project is successful, the caterpillars will turn into butterflies within two weeks.

[Last modified May 28, 2004, 01:00:27]


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