Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Florida Duskywing by Linda Evans

Florida Duskywing, Navy Wells, male

Florida Duskywing, Navy Wells, female

Florida Duskywing caterpillar, Navy Wells
Florida Duskywing caterpillar, Navy Wells

Florida Duskywing chrysalis, very rarely seen

The Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) is tracking butterflies in the state of Florida that have declining populations, including over 25 imperiled species of south Florida.  Our Miami Blue Chapter of NABA is taking part in a three-year survey of parks, preserves and other conservation areas in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, to determine if species listed by FNAI are present in local pinelands, hammocks and wetlands. 

One of our local target butterflies is the rarely seen Florida Duskywing, a pineland specialist, which relies on Locustberry, Byrsonima lucida, and Barbados cherry, Malpighia glabra, as its larval host plants.  Noted nectar plants are Spanish Needle, Bidens alba, and Wild Sage,  Lantana involucrate, found in our pine rocklands.  The Florida Duskywing’s range is the extreme southern tip of peninsular Florida and the Florida keys, in select places where pine rocklands have been spared from development. 

There are seven duskywing species  that occur in Florida, three of which are present in deep South Florida (Horace’s, Zarucco, and the Florida).  Horace’s host plants include many species of oak; the Zarucco uses a wide variety of legumes. Not surprisingly, the Florida Duskywing’s limited palate makes it a pine rockland specialist – and both the butterfly and the habitat are severely limited and threatened.

Our pineland surveys have located Florida Duskywings and recently, caterpillars on Locust Berry were found at one of our south Miami-Dade County sites by an FNAI survey team lead by Linda Evans. This information has been transmitted to FNAI for the statewide imperiled species database.

For more information on FNAI’s work to catalog imperiled species in Florida, search for in your browser and check the article, “Butterfly Watchers Count” in this blog site. 

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