Rare butterfly thrives on, and because of, US military bases

Missing Afghan Soldiers_507641

Vehicles are stopped by security personnel as they enter a gate Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, to Camp Edwards, Mass., on Cape Cod. Police and military officials were searching Monday for three soldiers from the Afghanistan National Army who went missing Saturday during a training exercise at the base. The Afghan soldiers had been participating in […]

BOSTON (AP) — It sounds strange, but a rare butterfly has been found by federal wildlife officials to be thriving on U.S. military bases.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife endangered species expert says the frosted elfin has been confirmed at Westover Air Reserve Base and Camp Edwards in Massachusetts; Fort McCoy in Wisconsin; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; and the New Hampshire State Military Reservation.

The common thread among the bases is the way they manage vegetation. Controlled burns create the perfect conditions for wild blue lupine and indigo to grow. Those are the frosted elfin caterpillar’s two plant hosts.

The brown butterflies with a wingspan of about an inch (2.5 centimeters) are not on the federal endangered species list, but are headed there.

The hope is that what’s helping them flourish on military installations can be applied outside base gates.

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