A woman in Key Largo, Florida, made a huge discovery recently.
Susan Kolterman found what would turn out to be a Poey’s swallowtail while she was out searching for an endangered butterfly she has been helping to survey in the area for over six years. Kolterman was initially unsure of what she had seen so she took several pictures before bad weather shut her day down short.
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Once she got home and had a chance to check the photo against her reference material. She ran out of luck and couldn’t find a match so she brought in a fellow butterfly enthusiast named Roger Hammer to help her solve the mystery.
Mr. Hammer also had a difficult time identify the butterfly in the photo’s Susan took. Hammer eventually found a photographic match to a Poey using a long out-of-print book he had in his collection. In order to confirm the find, Kolterman and Hammer sent Susan’s photos to experts around the eastern United States. A researcher at the University of Florida eventually confirmed Susan’s mystery butterfly as a Poey’s swallowtail.
The Poey’s swallowtail is native to Cuba and had never before been seen in the United States. The Poey is found throughout the island of Cuba but is more common on the eastern side of the country. It is usually found near seashores and is atypical in the more mountainous regions of Cuba.
Susan’s find had an injured tail but there is hope that the butterfly will live long enough to start a new colony. She is excited, along with her colleagues, to keep monitoring the area for more Poey’s in the future.