Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion Welcomes World’s First Dragonflies Reared Under Human Care

  • Three Mountain Emerald Dragonflies have reached adulthood in human care, a first for the species
  • Dragonfly breeding is one of Butterfly Pavilion’s many global programs advancing invertebrate conservation

Media Note: Photos, video and other editorial material is available by request. Rosie the Tarantula, other animals and scientific experts are available for media appearances and interviews by contacting kstewart@butterflies.org.

Westminster, Colo – Aug. 27, 2020 –Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion proudly announced today the emergence of three Mountain Emerald Dragonflies, thought to be the first of their kind to be reared from eggs to adulthood under human care. The three males, dubbed Larry, Moe and Curly, represent three years of work by Butterfly Pavilion researchers, as well as the all-important first step in a three-step process to save endangered Colorado dragonflies.

In addition to helping manage mosquito and other insect populations, dragonflies are an important “indicator species” whose presence signals overall health of wetland ecosystems. While the Mountain Emerald Dragonfly isn’t imperiled, it is a close relative to the Hudsonian Emerald Dragonfly, which is.

“Butterfly Pavilion will be able to take what we’ve learned rearing Mountain Emeralds and transfer that knowledge to helping save the Hudsonian Emerald,” said Sara Stevens, Butterfly Pavilion’s Aquatics manager and the lead researcher on the study. “This proactive approach to conservation sets us up to have a large toolkit to help other species.”

Butterfly Pavilion’s three-stage plan for breeding dragonflies is:

  • Rear as many Colorado species of dragonfly from egg to adulthood as possible and release them back into the wild
  • Get two of these adults to successfully reproduce
  • Rear those eggs to adulthood successfully

“Rearing these dragonflies under human care represents an important advancement in the research and conservation of these important and charismatic animals, and demonstrates Butterfly Pavilion’s leadership,” said Richard P. Reading, Ph.D., Butterfly Pavilion’s Director of Research and Conservation. “Our goal is to breed and rear dragonflies to release back into the wild, as well as to display at Butterfly Pavilion. This is another example of Butterfly Pavilion working to protect our ecosystems here in Colorado, as well as the rest of the world.”

Dragonfly breeding is just one of the many programs and projects Butterfly Pavilion manages all over the world, making a global impact in invertebrate conservation. Active projects include: Parnassian Butterfly conservation in Mongolia; managing protected areas in Saudi Arabia; butterfly farming in Indonesia; and reducing human and elephant conflicts through the use of honey bees in Tanzania and Nepal. Domestically, Butterfly Pavilion manages numerous citizen science programs that include butterfly and dragonfly monitoring, as well as open space habitat restoration to better support pollinators.

Community members interested in supporting these programs can make a tax-deductible donation to Butterfly Pavilion’s Resiliency Fund, or give directly to the Research and Conservation Department. Those interested in joining a citizen science program can find more information at Butterfly Pavilion’s website.

About Butterfly Pavilion:

Butterfly Pavilion is the world’s only stand-alone, Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited invertebrate zoo dedicated to transforming the way people think about the small but mighty animals that are the hidden heroes of the animal kingdom. As the leader in invertebrate knowledge, inspiration and connection, and as a member institution of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, Butterfly Pavilion works to foster an appreciation of these critical animals by educating the public about the need to protect and care for threatened habitats globally, while conducting research for solutions in invertebrate conservation. Whether it is providing unique, hands-on learning experiences in our exhibits and educational programs, conducting new research that sets the standard for zoos across the country or building innovative solutions for species and habitat conservation in countries around the world, Butterfly Pavilion is leading the way in ensuring invertebrates are protected for the future. Learn more at Butterflies.org.

Butterfly Pavilion Media Contact(s):
Russ Pecoraro, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, rpecoraro@butterflies.org or 720.375.9984

Kristen Stewart, publicist, kstewart@butterflies.org

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