The Miami Blue butterfly, which appears on the Save Wild Florida license tag, is a small, brightly colored butterfly found only in Florida.
Not long ago, the Miami Blue, once flying across the entire southern half of Florida, teetered on the verge of extinction. Insecticide use in South Florida, as well as destruction of roadside vegetation, natural disasters and an invasive species of fire ant devastated the Miami Blue butterfly population, which, at its lowest point, dwindled to 35 individuals.
Because of timely and decisive efforts on behalf of the State of Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission through the Florida Museum of Natural History and the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, the Miami Blue population was successfully restored through breeding and re-release. From 35 individuals, the beautiful and rare Miami Blue butterfly has been returned to South Florida by captively bred individuals in the thousands.
In 2006 alone, wildlife watchers spent $3.1 billion on wildlife-watching activities in Florida, not including hunting, fishing, and boating. The Miami Blue butterfly is one of many of Florida's unique natural attractions. Despite its recent comeback, the butterfly is still listed as endangered in the state of Florida. However, it is not the only natural resource in need of support. Many of Florida's native wildlife and natural wonders face increasing peril every day, and without funding for conservation projects, the state risks a multi-billion dollar contributor to its economy and well being.