The diversity of South Florida's tropical butterfly population is "compromised," experts from the North American Butterfly Association said.
At one time, at least 13 varieties of tropical butterflies could be found in healthy numbers in the Florida Keys and southern Miami-Dade County but some of them have either completely disappeared or are in danger of doing so, the Miami Herald reported Monday.
Five varieties have already vanished from the Keys and three others may have disappeared from South Florida altogether.
"These represent the first butterflies lost from Florida that we know about," Marc Minno, an entomologist who conducted monthly surveys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Herald. "There are things down there that are just hanging on by a thread."
"Clearly, the diversity of the butterfly population has been compromised," said Dennis Olle, president of the Miami blue chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.
Scientists said the destruction of the butterflies' habitat the strongest factor in their disappearance, the Herald said.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International
Explore further: Thousands of birds abandon eggs, nests on Florida island