SAVING ONE OF THE RAREST OF BUTTERFLIES 'BLUE' RESCUE MOORPARK COLLEGE HOSTS INSECT INCUBATION.Byline: ERIC LEACH
MOORPARK - With spring here, an effort to save one of the rarest butterflies in the world is getting a boost at Moorpark College Moorpark College is a California-state funded community college located on a 134 acre (542,000 m²) property reclining on a hill in Moorpark, a town in Ventura County, California. , where students, faculty and other supporters are rallying to help the new butterfly breeding program A breeding program is the planned breeding of a group of animals or plants, usually involving at least several individuals and extending over several generations. Breeding programs are commonly employed in several fields where humans wish to manage the characteristics of their .
"The females have been laying eggs for about two weeks now," said Jana Johnson, a part-time member of the biology faculty and a contract biologist for the Urban Wildlands Group, which is coordinating the rescue effort.
So far, the effort to save the Palos Verdes blue The Palos Verdes Blue butterfly is a small endangered butterfly native to the Palos Verdes Peninsula in southwest Los Angeles County, California. As its distrubution has been proven to be limited to one single site it has one of the best claims to being the world's rarest butterfly. butterfly has been successful because so many people are helping, Johnson said, noting that 18 people are working on the project.
The late winter's dry, warm weather has presented a challenge because the butterflies need sun but can't get too hot, she said.
"We have really been fighting the hot, dry weather," she said. "We have a tarp up, a swamp cooler and we are feeding the butterflies by hand twice a day."
At Moorpark, the butterfly rescue effort is housed at America's Teaching Zoo, where students are trained for the college's Exotic Animal Training and Management program.
The Palos Verdes blue butterfly is one of the most endangered en·dan·ger
tr.v. en·dan·gered, en·dan·ger·ing, en·dan·gers
1. To expose to harm or danger; imperil.
2. To threaten with extinction. in the world and was actually feared extinct after it had not been seen for more than 10 years. But it was rediscovered in 1994 feeding on locoweed locoweed or crazyweed [Span. loco=crazy], any of several American species of the genera Astragalus and Oxytropus, north-temperate leguminous plants of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), that, when eaten by horses, and deerweed at the Department of Defense Fuel Support Point in San Pedro.
In 1994, there were only about 75 believed in existence, and since then biologists have been working with the Navy and the federal Defense Logistics Agency Noun 1. Defense Logistics Agency - a logistics combat support agency in the Department of Defense; provides worldwide support for military missions
Defense Department, Department of Defense, DoD, United States Department of Defense, Defense - the federal department to help the butterfly's population recover.
As a result, a few hundred are now believed to be living in the wild, with a stock this winter in San Pedro of about 600 dormant Latent; inactive; silent. That which is dormant is not used, asserted, or enforced.
A dormant partner is a member of a partnership who has a financial interest yet is silent, in that he or she takes no control over the business. pupae.
For some time, said Army Major Jason Pike pike, in zoology
pike, common name for the family Esocidae, freshwater game and food fishes of Europe, Asia, and North America. The pike, the muskellunge, and the pickerel form a small but well-known group of long, thin fishes with spineless dorsal fins, , an entomologist with the Defense Logistics Agency overseeing the project, biologists have wanted another breeding location, such as the one in Moorpark, as a backup.
"If we've got all our endangered species endangered species, any plant or animal species whose ability to survive and reproduce has been jeopardized by human activities. In 1999 the U.S. government, in accordance with the U.S. in one place, a fire could wipe them out," he said. "This is quite possibly the most endangered butterfly in the world."
Pupae were taken from San Pedro to Moorpark last month, and as spring arrived last week, the butterflies in Moorpark began emerging, breeding and producing eggs.
"They are obviously happy. We've had lots of breeding and lots of eggs," Johnson said. "Caterpillars are developing now that will become butterflies next spring."
Some of the butterflies will be taken to San Pedro to continue boosting the population there, she said, and some will used for more breeding next year in Moorpark.
"I'm ecstatic ec·stat·ic
1. Marked by or expressing ecstasy.
2. Being in a state of ecstasy; joyful or enraptured.
[French extatique, from Greek ekstatikos, from ," Johnson said of the results so far. "I was a big ball of worry."
Travis Longcore, science director of the Urban Wildlands Group, said experiments are under way in Moorpark that will help refine the breeding techniques.
"We couldn't do this without the dedication of the students," he said.
What the students are learning from the butterflies might help some of them go on to help other endangered species, especially other endangered butterflies.
"It's very clear a lot of people are looking out for these little guys," Longcore said. "We couldn't have this number of butterflies without a lot of hands-on care."
(1 -- color) Lab biologist Jana Johnson holds a Palos Verdes blue butterfly on a bit of tissue at the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College last Monday.
(2 -- color) A Palos Verdes blue butterfly feeds on flowering deerweed at Moorpark College's exotic animal training center.
(3) Student Adam Clause feeds honey water to a Palos Verdes blue butterfly.
(4 -- color) Lab biologist Jana Johnson places protective containers around branches of caterpillar-laden deerweed.