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El Segundo blue butterfly making comeback

July 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
ABC7 got a look at the rare El Segundo blue butterfly Thursday at a nature preserve near LAX.The preserve, which is one of the last refuges for the butterfly, was opened to the media for a rare chance to photograph the creature.

It was once pretty common to see the butterflies, but urbanization and an invasion of nonnative grasses took its toll on the blue butterflies.

Entomologist Dick Arnold has been studying and trying to save the El Segundo blue butterflies for more than 30 years.

"It's totally dependent upon the seacliff buckwheat food plant. And if you don't have that food plant, you're not going to have the butterfly," said Arnold.

At one time, the butterfly was on the brink of extinction. By 1976 scientists could only count about 500 of the butterflies.

But today, thanks to habitat restoration efforts at places like the west end of LAX, the El Segundo blue butterflies are making a comeback.

"[The] butterflies have typically been more in the 50 to 70-thosuand range," said Arnold.

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