Friday, August 7, 2009

Butterfly Populations Declining As Human Development Encroaches

A caterpillar may make you go "Ugh," but butterflies make everyone swoon. Who hasn't stopped and stared, mesmerized by a butterfly flitting among flowers on a summer afternoon? What child hasn't chased them?

If you remember doing any of that, you probably also remember thinking, "Hmm, there don't seem to be as many butterflies around as there used to be."

You're right. There aren't.

According to this news report from the Associated Press, some scientists believe that butterfly populations are declining. A 2006 report by the National Academy of Sciences found populations of some pollinator species of butterfly were trending downward.

The reason for the drop is, as you may have guessed, the deteriorating environment for butterflies. Humans are paving paradise and taking away the butterflies' playgrounds.

Actually, they're more workplaces than playgrounds. Butterflies perform a vital function in Nature's food chain by fertilizing plants.

Of the more than 550 species of butterfly in the U.S. and Canada, dozens are on the endangered list, the AP report says.

But some butterfly aficionados scoff at the numbers. The president of the North American Butterfly Association says only a handful of species are on the list. "There is still plenty of habitat," he says.

Maybe he's right, and maybe all the butterflies are fluttering and dancing somewhere far away. In my yard, I haven't seen any in years.

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