Women’s prison helps butterflies fly free

Inmates at a women’s prison in Oregon helped raise 476 Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly caterpillars.
©Ted Thomas/USFWS

This March, a program where incarcerated women help caterpillars metamorphose into Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies (Euphydryas editha taylori), helped raise 476 caterpillars that were later released into the wild. The program, launched in May 2017, is a partnership with the Oregon Zoo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the nonprofit Institute for Applied Ecology. The first year, three inmates at Oregon women’s correctional facility at Coffee Creek didn’t have much success. This year, though, they were able to raise the butterflies, which the USFWS then released into their former habitat in the western plains of Oregon. The butterflies have lost almost all of their habitat in the grasslands of the Pacific Northwest due to urban development and agriculture.

Read more in Atlas Obscura.