What’s going on?
The Schaus swallowtail butterfly is endemic to Florida, meaning it isn’t found anywhere else.
Its habitat consists of tropical hardwood hammocks and the surrounding area where it enjoys guava nectar and wild tamarind, the butterfly’s food of choice.
Habitat fragmentation, pesticide use, and climate change have been decimating the number of individuals in the wild. The Schaus swallowtail is considered critically endangered, restricted to a few sites in South Florida and the Florida Keys.
Why it matters.
This butterfly has a slim reproductive window only present once per year from mid-May to mid-June. Combined with its limited range and small population numbers, the Schaus swallowtail is facing a real risk of extinction.
As a productive pollinator and an important component of the food chain, the Schaus swallowtail is indicative of ecological function. This butterfly is known as an indicator species: where there is a swallowtail, there is a healthy ecosystem.
What you can do.
Officials have asked the general population to help with the task of bringing back the swallowtail. By submitting data on the whereabouts of the butterfly, scientists can continue building knowledge on its range and what might be constricting it.
Other ways to help the swallowtail:
- Participate in community science. Observe and record sightings of the Schaus swallowtail responsibly, and never attempt to handle the butterfly.
- Report any website or individual attempting to sell specimens of the butterfly.
- Be mindful of your pesticide and insecticide use.
Information from UF Entomology Department, National Park Service, and the Florida Museum of Natural History. Images by iNaturalist users ron284 (CC BY NC 4.0), afranck (CC BY NC 4.0), and isaacthelord (CC BY NC 4.0).