HOMESTEAD, Florida (AP) - University of Florida scientists are taking a captive breeding program for a rare butterfly back into the field.
Researchers collected 100 eggs from four female Schaus swallowtails captured last year in Biscayne National Park. Now butterflies, caterpillars and larvae bred from those eggs in a Gainesville lab are being released back into the Schaus swallowtail's tropical hardwood habitat.
Florida butterfly expert Jaret Daniels tells The Miami Herald that researchers hope the program keeps the butterfly from going extinct.
A similar program begun just before Hurricane Andrew swept away much of its habitat is credited with saving the butterfly once. Thousands were released, but the Schaus swallowtail population dwindled over the next two decades. Only handfuls of Schaus swallowtails have been seen in the wild in the last few years.