Hine’s emerald dragonflies, a beautiful species was thought to be almost extinct. Now, 20 captivity born individuals will be released in the wild.
Hine’s emerald dragonflies have been discovered in the state of Ohio a long time ago. Yet, by mid 20th century, the species was believed to be extinct. When a few specimens were found in Des Plaines River Valley in 1988, efforts to enlist it as endangered rendered results in 1995.
Currently, the geographical area where Hine’s emerald dragonflies can still be found comprises Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Illinois.
Still, Illinois counts only 320 individuals of the emerald dragonfly. Thus, researchers at the University of South Dakota decided to give the little fellows a helping hand. Previously, they harvested the eggs of an emerald dragonfly captured in Wisconsin.
To make sure Hine’s emerald dragonfly continues thriving, the researchers incubated the eggs under laboratory conditions and took good care of the larvae once they hatched. Now, 20 individuals will be released into a forest preserve found in Illinois after the researchers were breeding them for five years.
As the eggs are laid in the wild, the chances of survival are dim. The team stated that only 10 out of 1,000 eggs survive. Under protected laboratory conditions, the chances of survival improve significantly. 100 to 200 eggs survive and emerald dragonflies reach adulthood.
Kristopher Lah of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and coordinator for endangered species stated that in Illinois, out of more than 1,000 eggs laid in the wild, only 80 to approximately 300 emerald dragonflies larvae survive into adulthood.
So the researchers effort to keep Hine’s emerald dragonfly alive are well worth it. For the team, their beauty is the main trigger.
“It’s something that we value because it’s beautiful or it has some intrinsic value that we just want to protect. A small butterfly doesn’t really have any economic value and probably could go extinct and we’d never even know it. But I think there’s an obligation to our future generations of people that we try to preserve the Earth in at least as good a condition as we found it”,
stated Mike Grimm of Wisconsin’s Nature Conservancy group.
The 20 emerald dragonflies that will be released in Illinois are expected to bring a little diversity in the genetical code. As the genetic composition is identical, the chances of survival get dimmer again.
Photo Credits bugguide.net