Butterflies

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. “
-E.O. Wilson-

When I was a child butterflies, especially the Monarch, were around in huge quantities in an area close to the Canada/United States border town of Emerson.  My grandmother lived there and during our visits we were allowed to roam the fields behind her lot leaping and darting among these beautiful creatures.  There were a seemingly endless number of them in that area.  At that tender age, I had no knowledge of their purpose other than perhaps to simply delight young children.  It is now fairly unusual to spot such large numbers in that area.  I believe butterflies have succumbed to the over usage of herbicides and pesticides.

Butterflies are indeed very important species in the environment, providing pollination services to many plants.  They have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relations with insects such as ants.  And although they can damage some crops or trees, some caterpillars of a few species eat harmful insects.  They are a valuable interconnected part of the natural environments to which each species of butterfly is uniquely suited.

Many butterflies, such as the Monarch are migratory and capable of long distance flights. They migrate during the day and use the sun to orient themselves. They also perceive polarized light and use it for orientation when the sun is hidden. Thus they impact on a range of habitats.  Other species of butterfly maintain territories and actively chase other species or individuals that may stray into them. These maintain a balance in the habitat unique to their species.

Although they most definitely have become a common motif in human artistic expression; the value of the butterfly goes beyond merely delighting young children.  In the environs of each of the butterfly species they are an integral element in the balance of nature.

Use of herbicides and pesticides over the decades has reduced the butterfly populations just as it has other valuable insects such as bees.  When one species is reduced the repercussions are felt in a ripple effect through the entire ecosystem.  Many harmful insecticides and herbicides have been banned already when recognised as carcinogenic to people.  We need to go further to avert the serious decline in the insect population.  We need to recognise that as annoying and pesky as some weeds and insects seem to be their existence on Earth is integral to the continuation of life itself.

To do my part I have chosen to not use insecticides or pesticides at all.  When I have the occasion to bring up the subject I encourage others to recognise the importance of this.  There are natural deterrents such as companion planting to discourage many pesky and hungry bugs in the garden.  Mulching and pulling out weeds by the roots keep down garden weeds.  The lawn is rife with whatever has the gumption to grow on our northern rocky clay-mix soil.  I even tend to mow around lovely blossoming clumps of natural vegetation; their flowering beauty is a wonderful attraction for butterflies and bees.

Today’s “stone is Day 44   flitting, freely, dancing, leaping, metaphorical laughter

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One thought

  1. A lovely picture, you as a little girl in a field full of butterflies 😎 I have done away with pesticides and insecticides in my life, and I’m encouraging others to follow suit. Hopefully the message gets out before butterflies are as extinct as the Dodo bird.

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