Tampa Bay Times

Irma may have wiped out Miami blue butterfly

- BY CRAIG PITTMAN Times Staff Writer

Only one sighting of the endangered species has been reported in the Keys since the hurricane.

Hurricane Irma didn’t hurt the endangered Key deer, but it may have all but wiped out the most endangered butterfly in Florida.

Since the storm passed through in September, only a single Miami blue butterfly, another resident of the Keys, has been spotted there, according to Marc C. Minno, co-author of the book

Florida Keys.

Even if a couple more turn up there, Minno said, “They’re doomed. They’re found only on these isolated islands in areas that take the full brunt of hurricanes and sea level rise.”

However, another butterfly expert says it’s too soon to tell whether Florida has seen the last of the Miami blue. Andrew Warren of the Florida Museum

Butterflie­s of the of Natural History suggested waiting until spring to be sure.

After all, this would not be the first time someone thought the blue-winged butterfly had become extinct. It’s not even the second time.

If it turns out that this time they really are gone for good, though, there is a captive-bred group of Miami blues being tended by scientists at the

 ?? Florida Museum of Natural History ?? The male Miami blue’s wings are iridescent blue on top.
Florida Museum of Natural History The male Miami blue’s wings are iridescent blue on top.

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