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Feds add two Florida butterflies to endangered species list

 Florida Leafwing
Florida Leafwing
Undated handout photo taken by Holly Salvato provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service via Reuters

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is adding both the Bartram's scrub-hairstreak and Florida leafwing butterflies to the list of endangered species, making it illegal to catch or harm both the adults and larvae.

“Both species were common around Miami and the Florida Keys until development wiped out much of their natural habitat,” according to agency spokesman Ken Warren, who added that the agency has “designated a total of 10,561 acres for the Florida leafwing butterfly and 11,539 acres for the Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly in 7 separate parcels in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties as critical habitat for the butterflies to go into effect as of September 11, 2014.” 85% of the land is already owned by either the state or federal government. The remaining 15%, which is privately owned had been slated for development for a new strip mall featuring a Walmart, Chili’s and Chick-fil-A, but can now not be developed without federal funding or permission. which is privately owned could not be used for any kind of development without federal funding or permission.

“The last thing these butterflies need is another strip mall smack in the middle of some of their most important habitat,” stated Jacklyn Lopez, a Florida attorney based at Center for Biological Diversity. “This designation should help protect the rare and disappearing pine rocklands that are important habitat for a host of Florida species.”

The Florida leafwing, is a lovely little butterfly that looks like a dead leaf when resting rest, and Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak, a medium-sized gray butterfly (about 1 inch long) with delicate dashes of white and rust. Both butterflies have lost a significant amount of their habitat due to development, and they are also now facing the serious and compounding threats of climate change. Both butterflies are also severely threatened by sea-level rise. According to government estimates, “the best-case scenario projections for sea-level rise at their home in Big Pine Key are for a rise of 7”, which would flood an estimated 34% of the island, while the worst-case scenario projection is for 4.6’, which would place 96% of the Key underwater.”

Note: So far 10 Florida species have received final protection under the between the Center for Biological Diversity and US Fish and Wildlife service,, including the Miami blue butterfly, five freshwater mussels, Florida bonneted bat, Cape Sable thoroughwort, aboriginal prickly apple and Florida semaphore cactus.