Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Abort, Abort, Abort!

Murphy has discovered where the project lives. Yesterday's much-anticipated silver-bordered fritillary release had to be aborted. Here Vincent expresses all of our frustration as we give up on the endeavor. The storm clouds in the background are only part of the reason. Here is what you can't see from the picure:

  • It took over 2 hours to get to this spot from downtown Chicago. We were trying for a very late day release. Traffic was, therefore, horrible, and certain unnamed mambers of our party became lost.
  • The field behind Vincent ranges between ankle-deep and knee deep in water. Not only did we all get very wet feet and legs, all of the caterpillar food plants that were previously scoped out are under a couple of feet of water at the moment.
  • The storms that caused all of this have been doing a lot of damage here in the upper Midwest. Some of it has involved signifncant injuries, property damage, and even loss of life. We have all been lucky, but it can be difficult to remember that when the worst mosquito outbreak in over a decade is draining you dry.
So where do we go from here? The butterflies that were to be released have been put in flight cages in the lab to breed and create at least one more generation that can be released in September. Fewer than half of the chyrsalides that we have in the lab have emerged, and there should be plenty of adult butterflies for us to try again with next week. There is higher ground near this picture with plenty of host plants, so we should be OK with just some minor re-adjustment to the plan. I'm also learning a new value of blogging. During frustrating times you can comfort yourself by knowing that the story will make a good blog entry.

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At 20:30, Blogger robin andrea said...

I'm sorry that this endeavor turned out to be so disappointing, I hope the next generation has a better shot at release. What a weird thing for there to be so much rain right now.

At 09:43, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Robin- Thanks for the good thoughts. We have an interesting luxury this year that we have not had in previous efforts- flexibility. We are not dealing with the last generation of the season, and we aren't even all the way though this generation. We are looking at trying another release on Monday. This is really no more than a minor setback at this point.

At 14:42, Blogger Ur-spo said...

stinko to all that
you are correct that every dark cloud has a silver lining - or is blog foddger. recently a patient reported he was still very depressed and suicidal but it was making for smashing good blogging entries....

At 11:56, Anonymous Jyoti said...

In a way i'm very happy that the butterfly release have to wait ... Wonder what would have happened to them in the severe storm!

At 09:36, Blogger Doug Taron said...

jyoti- For an established population, there shouldn't be much of a problem. However, right after release it's much more of a delicate situation. There would have been a limited number of individuals on the site and all of them would have been adults (I doubt very much that egg laying would have happened before the storm hit). So yes, it's a good thing we aborted. We will try again this afternoon.

At 21:12, Anonymous mark h said...

These little guys WERE LUCKY weren't they!!! Nature would not have been able to be so kind ................ Think about how important your work is NOW, Dr. T !!!


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