The Butterfly Whisperer

The Butterfly Whisperer
February 25, 2018 Christina Mullin

Described as “the butterfly whisperer,” Tim Wong, is an aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Science (in San Francisco), who spends his free time working to bring back the California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. He started by researching the butterfly and learned that when in caterpillar form, it only feeds on one plant: the California pipevine (Aristolochia californica), a very rare plant in the city. Wong finally found the plant at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and they let him take some clippings home. From there, Wong built a “large screen enclosure” that would allow the butterflies to mate in natural conditions and allow him to observe precisely what they needed in an “ideal host plant.”

Wong started out with 20 caterpillars. Now around three years later, his butterfly home is thriving. He raises the caterpillars and then takes them to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and last year brought “thousands” to the botanical gardens. He’s now grown over 200 California pipevine plants. Wong said, “We’ve seen more butterflies surviving in the garden, flying around, laying eggs, successfully pupating, and emerge the following year. That’s a good sign that our efforts are working!”

Wong said, “Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do. Conservation and stewardship can start in your very own backyard.” You can plant native plants and weed to allow butterflies to obtain food easier, and stop using pesticides.

Source: The