Bay Journal

Topics: Wildlife + Habitat

Scientists seek to elevate rare frosted elfin butterfly’s numbers

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Frosted elfin butterflies aren’t much to look at. Their 1-inch wingspan and brownish-gray wings give them the appearance more of a moth than a majestic monarch butterfly.

Jennifer Selfridge doesn’t see them that way, though. Thirteen years after her first glimpse of the species on the site of a recently cleared Maryland forest, her voice still crackles with excitement.

“It was fantastic,” said Selfridge, an invertebrate ecologist with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. “A lot of times when you go out to find a species that is rare, you’re lucky to see one or two — and on this day, I saw dozens of them. I lost track of time and got a really bad sunburn.”

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About Wildlife + Habitat

The Chesapeake Bay region supports more than 2,700 species of plants and animals, including 348 species of finfish and 173 species of shellfish.

It is also home to at least 29 species of waterfowl. Nearly one million waterfowl winter on the Bay – approximately one-third of the Atlantic coast’s migratory population. The birds stop to feed and rest on the Bay during their annual migration along the Atlantic Flyway.

Nearly 80,000 acres of bay grasses grow in the shallows of the Bay and its tributaries. Young and molting blue crabs rely on bay grass beds for protection from predators.

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