Saving Butterflies

Because Butterflies are like a canary in a coal mine, here are two efforts to save them.

We know there are less bees and that is bad for the pollination needed to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers. The same is so with butterflies. Several species are near extinction due to global warming, loss of habitat, pesticides, droughts and fires. Speaking of that extinction, Scott Black the executive director of Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation, says “butterflies are the canary in the coal mine. We’re going to see other butterflies and bees, and other important insects, and then our birds; and then our mammals head that same way if we don’t take action soon.” There are now several projects going on in California to preserve and protect butterflies. An impressive one is at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, where the patience and care they take with the larvae can’t help but impress. Apparently bugs fight so they keep having to separate the caterpillars into smaller dishes, where they are fed nectar and can feed on the plants where the butterflies had laid eggs. The butterflies are delicately caught so they can be bred. They are sprayed and even fed Gatorade—because they like it. Usually they are fed flowers and nectar water until they lay eggs, and then once the new butterflies are hatched, even more delicately transported and released in the wild. Another project is Monarch Challenge, it’s the brainchild of Carlo Mondavi, grandchild of Robert Mondavi of wine making fame. Mondavi avoids pesticides and even uses artificial intelligence to track the butterflies. His methods may add 18 cents a bottle—a nominal sum, one must admit—but are making a difference. He and his fellow farmers—his word—rely on any number of sustainable methods to farm without harmful chemicals. He relies on good bugs and good weeds to take care of the bad ones and encourage biodiversity. He also makes a practical suggestion, for people to grow flowers to attract butterflies and allow them to flourish. Indeed I have several friends who have created butterfly gardens!

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