Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The connection between butterflies, plants and beer

This November CNHP Zoologist Rob Schorr had the opportunity to meet with Odell Brewing Company personnel to discuss a poorly-understood butterfly that has interesting ties to the beer brewing process. 

Odell Brewing Company's bike rack of hops

During a biological inventory of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2011, CNHP Zoologists Jeremy Siemers and Rob Schorr stumbled upon several populations of the hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus).  

A female hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus) 

The hops blue butterfly is a about the size of a silver dollar when in flight, showing purple-blue wings, but when the wings are closed it is an inconspicuous white dot on a field of green hops.  This unique butterfly is only found in a few Front Range counties of Colorado, and it gets its name from its primary host plant, wild hops (Humulus lupulus). Rob presented the current state of knowledge on the natural history and population ecology of the hops blue, then there was a fun discussion about the happenstance that put this rare butterfly in a region of the country with such strong affiliation to brewing and brewing culture. 

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