California Pipevine swallowtail
California Pipevine swallowtail Image Credit: Timtast1c/ Instagram

In San Francisco, a butterfly species was facing extinction due to the scarcity of its host plant - the California Pipevine. However, Tim Wong, a senior biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, stepped up to save the struggling butterfly species, single-handedly.

According to a local channel report, Wong's passion for creating a pollinator habitat in his backyard led him to research native butterflies that needed extra help. Pollinator habitat is an area with a variety of flowering plants that provide food and nesting space. "I was looking into creating a pollinator habitat in my backyard, and I found that there were some native butterflies that needed a little extra help," said Wong.

He discovered the California Pipevine swallowtail butterfly known for its beautiful blue hue, which is native to San Francisco, had disappeared from the city. The species' host plant was exceedingly scarce in the city, and Wong realised that many native butterflies have a very close relationship with native plants.

Wong found the plant in the San Francisco Botanical Garden and was allowed to take a few clippings, according to the reports. He built a large screen enclosure to protect the butterflies from predators, enabling them to mate under natural environmental conditions. Once his butterfly garden was complete, Wong travelled outside the city to source 20 California Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars.

Wong cared for the caterpillars until they pupated and formed a chrysalis. After hatching, he continued to care for them and raised new caterpillars in the same habitat. Wong's dedication and hard work paid off as the butterfly population began to thrive once again in San Francisco.

Wong's efforts did not go unnoticed on social media, with many expressing their admiration for his dedication. An Instagram user, @louzenoz commented: "Wong's story proves that one person can make a difference."

Another user, @elizscarbs, suggested that Wong should sell or offer to give away some plants and caterpillars to people who want to do the same.

"Imagine what a beautiful place our world would be if everyone put in ... effort to help the ecosystem like this man," wrote Anastasia Salmon, an Instagrammer.

Around 44,600 people follow Wong, known as timtast1c, on Instagram. His feed features stunning photographs of both land and marine nature.

"Conservation efforts can start anywhere. Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do," Wong said, talking to a local news source. "Conservation and stewardship can start in your backyard," he added.