Males are largely blue, Females appear greyCAPTIVE-breeding has raised the numbers of a rare butterfly species. Trouble is, there are not many places to release them.
Last year, an estimated 220 of the Palos Verdes blues butterflies existed in the wild in California, so few that experts feared they could be wiped out by a single hillside brush fire.
Yet in 12 days earlier last month, 2,400 blues - three times more than forecast - emerged at a laboratory housed at Moorpark College, about a 45-minute drive to the north-west from Los Angeles. But with a life span of three to 38 days, hundreds of the butterflies may die in captivity.
Biologists can't simply release the butterflies in any nice-looking garden or park. This is a federally protected species, and there are regulations to follow. Also, landowners must be willing to accept the butterflies with all their
protections. Permits ean take months. Officials fear publicity could attract butterfly poachers.
A coastal bluff on the Palos Verdes Peninsula was approved for release recently but with the large number of blues, federal wildlife officials are scrambling to identify more sites on the peninsula for the butterflies.