Miami Blue

Mark Walker MWalker at
Thu Jan 17 12:38:06 EST 2002


Question:  Is the Miami Blue an endemic?  If not, then it makes sense that
it's presence in south Florida comes and goes with the weather.  Everything
that lives down there was hanging on for dear life long before the Spaniards
came.  If we're concerned that there will be no suitable habitat for it to
colonize upon it's next return, then let's just be more aware of what is
growing in the few places left where there is any suitable habitat (let's
face it, there wasn't that much to begin with).  If it's endemic or somehow
unique to south Florida, then it's certainly worth making a strong effort to
preserve it.  If not, then I question any extraordinary human effort on it's
behalf beyond monitoring it and knowing where and when and why it's present.

BTW - what is the relationship between thomasi and ammon?  I know ammon is
common in the southern keys now, and that it was considered mostly an Upper
Antilles species previously - has it been partly responsible for displacing

Mark Walker.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Calhoun [mailto:John.Calhoun at]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 6:59 AM
> To: jshuey at; leps-l at
> Cc: 'Don Stillwaugh'; 'Judith Buhrman'; 'Cornelius(Neil) Cosentino';
> 'Ron Gatrelle'; 'John Calhoun'; goodpat at; 'Kurt Johnson
> (E-mail)'; 'Mark Salvato (E-mail)'; 'Linda and Buck Cooper (E-mail)';
> Leptraps at; 'John Heppner (E-mail)'; 'Bob Parcelles,Jr.'; 'Lynn
> Marshall'; 'Director Stephen Garrett Komlos'; 'Jack Alvord'; 'Katy
> Anderson'
> Subject: RE: Miami Blue
> John,
> Thanks for the response.  You are correct, there are two species of
> balloon-vine in the Keys. However, C. corindum was never all 
> that common and
> has never been known to support populations of C. thomasi 
> (that's not to say
> it can't).  Also, the exotic C. halicacabum has suffered a 
> decline recently
> (even botanists have noticed). I think that as the butterfly 
> became more
> fragmented, C. halicacabum offered a suitable and readily available
> alternative in southern Florida.
> I don't know about the suitability, or unsuitability, of C. 
> halicacabum as a
> host.  It deserves a look.  It appeared to support healthy 
> populations of C.
> thomasi for at least twenty years.  However, Hurricane Andrew hit and
> destroyed a number of sites in 1992, further fragmenting the 
> species.  This,
> combined with the continued development of coastal south 
> Florida, has likely
> contributed to a rapid downward spiral.  I believe it simply reached a
> critical level and could no longer locate distant habitats 
> and hosts.  As
> populations sites disappeared, they were not replaced.  In fact, the
> surviving populations on Bahia Honda utilize both balloon-vine and
> nickerbean.  The Bahia population is quite isolated from 
> other potential
> sites. The Big Pine Key population is the dilemma.  It simply 
> disappeared
> from there, despite an abundance of native hosts and lack of 
> balloon-vine
> where it once occurred (in other words, it likely used 
> something other than
> balloon-vine as a primary host, but it still disappeared from there).
> Cardiospermum halicacabum has been removed from a number of 
> areas by the
> State of Florida during habitat restoration projects.  This 
> removal has been
> both intentional and accidental.  A large patch that 
> supported C. thomasi on
> northern Key Largo was removed during the development of the Key Largo
> Hammocks State Botanical Site.  In 1996, thomasi was observed 
> there.  After
> removal of the plants, none were seen until last year when a probable
> sighting of a single adult was reported in the area.
> John
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Shuey [mailto:jshuey at TNC.ORG]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 8:20 AM
> To: leps-l at
> Cc: 'Don Stillwaugh'; 'Judith Buhrman'; 'Cornelius(Neil) Cosentino';
> 'Ron Gatrelle'; 'John Calhoun'; goodpat at; Kurt Johnson
> (E-mail); Mark Salvato (E-mail); Linda and Buck Cooper (E-mail);
> Leptraps at; John Heppner (E-mail); 'Bob Parcelles,Jr.'; 'Lynn
> Marshall'; 'Director Stephen Garrett Komlos'; 'Jack Alvord'; 'Katy
> Anderson'; John.Calhoun at
> Subject: RE: Miami Blue
> >Can anyone else confirm what Leroy suggests (and I was
> > wondering) - is the
> > >Balloon Vine an exotic and if so, what did the Miami Blue
> > subsist on prior
> > >to the introduction of the vine?
> There are two balloon vines in the Florida Keys (aren't 
> common names nice??)
> Cardiospermum corindum, a native species and Cardiospermum 
> halicacabum, a
> non-native tropical species.  Based on a quick web search, 
> there are similar
> species (ecologically and morphologically) - and it seems 
> likely that both
> are hosts for Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri.
> I did a quick web search for control methods for 
> Cardiospermum halicacabum,
> and there are no online resources available on the Wildland 
> Weeds web page.
> This indicates that it isn't a real problem invasive (or at 
> least a big
> enough problem that people have developed a formal element 
> abstract for
> it).. but it is a widespread exotic.  So its probably an 
> early successional
> "naturalized" species - like Queen Anne's lace in the Midwest.
> This raises some questions about the actual suitability of 
> both species as
> hosts (and about plans to grow "balloon vine" as a tool to 
> stabilize the
> butterfly population).  It is possible that one of the 
> hostplant species is
> a sub-optimal host.  I know you can get perfect adults out of 
> C. halicacabum
> seed pods (I've done this), but are the adult butterflies 
> reproductively
> fit?  It seems likely that a series of quick tests looking at the
> suitability of both host plants and the reproductive potential of
> butterflies reared on both hosts should be assessed before 
> any effort is
> expended towards increasing the stands of balloon vine.
> I seems odd to me that C. halicacabum is a common weedy plant 
> (or at least
> was when I saw the Keys in the 80's) and yet the butterfly 
> has collapsed to
> a single population.  It could well be that the exotic 
> hostplant is acting
> as a population sink - it attracts eggs and produces adults that are
> physiologically impaired.
> So there, you have my speculation for the day,
> John
> _____________
> John A. Shuey
> Director of Conservation Science
> Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy
> 1505 N Delaware Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
> 317.951.8818
> >
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