Butterflies going bye-bye

Two South Florida butterflies appear to have gone extinct

Butterfly populations are continuing to decrease in the United States, thanks to the ongoing destruction of habitat—meadows and woods—to make room for housing developments, and the use of bug sprays, especially those for mosquito abatement.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced recently that in South Florida—considered “ground zero” because of the number of butterfly species “on the verge of annihilation,” as The Washington Post recently described it—the rockland grass skipper and the Zestos skipper are likely extinct. The rockland grass skipper has not been seen since 2000, and the Zestos skipper not since 2004.

If butterflies are becoming extinct, “it’s a strong indicator that we’re messing up the environment around us,” said Robert K. Robbins, research entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History.