san francisco botanic garden

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Timothy Wong Helps Out a Rare San Francisco Beauty

To see more fauna and flora and learn about Timothy’s conservation efforts, follow @timtast1c on Instagram.

Timothy Wong (@timtast1c) is the champion of the “truly San Francisco butterfly,” the pipevine swallowtail. “People are surprised that it’s a native butterfly because it looks so tropical and exotic,” Timothy explains. “It’s actually a rare butterfly within the city limits because of all the habitat loss.” An aquarium biologist at the California Academy of Sciences (@calacademy), Timothy’s hobby of raising native butterflies at home has evolved into a successful conservation effort; his caterpillars and butterflies go to the San Francisco Botanical Garden, helping re-establish the population. “People get so jazzed when they hear it’s something they could be doing at home,” Timothy says. “That helps inspire people to start gardening and wildlife conservation in their very own backyard, much like I’ve done in my own.”

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Opuntia microdasys is in the cactus family Cactaceae. Commonly known as bunny ears cactus or polka-dot cactus, it is endemic to areas of northern and central Mexico. This species produces pads that are covered in clusters of densely packed glochids, instead of longer spines in other cacti. Glochids are small, barbed, hair-like spines that detach upon contact with the skin. Glochids are produced in numerous species of cacti, and are mostly present in species within the Opuntioideae subfamily. Each cluster on the cactus pad can contain hundreds of microscopic glochids, which can cause immense pain and irritation if not removed quickly.