WHO is being affected?
Butterflies are the underdog pollinators. While bees contribute to the pollination of a majority of plants, butterflies pollinate a number of different plant populations worldwide with their unique abilities. They collect pollen and nectar on their long legs, both feeding themselves and allowing other plants’ seeds (on which they posit previously collected pollen and nectar) to be fertilized. Their slender and tubular shape allows them to pollinate plants (like the firecracker plant and the sunflower) that the bodies of bees cannot successfully reach. To butterflies, finding safe and accessible egg-laying sites is an important habitat characteristic (Merckx, Dyck, Karlsson, Leimar). They are also extremely responsive to ecological changes, which makes them great indicators of an ecosystem’s condition (Hawkinson). However, as more and more pesticides are sprayed in areas varying from school yards and agricultural fields, the ability for butterflies to find safe spots to lay their eggs and live healthy lives has lessened at extraordinary rates (Hawkinson).
WHAT is the problem?
Habitat fragmentation (the loss and division of habitat stemming from a variety of different reasons) has increasingly become detrimental to many species. To butterflies (and bees) pesticide usage is the antagonist responsible for the fragmentation of their habitats (plants and flowers), and as bee populations continue to decline due to the overuse of insecticides, it has become even more crucial to save the bees’ beautiful winged cousins. Pesticides and insecticides, which have contributed to the 4% decline in butterfly populations since 2011 (Latham), are toxic to many butterfly species. The primary culprit in this demoralizing loss of biodiversity is the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin. This water soluble nicotine based insecticide (which can either be sprayed directly onto plants or applied to soil) intoxicates the nectar and pollen that butterflies gather, harming them by reducing available egg-laying sites and food sources (citybugs.tamu.edu). Commonly found in urban areas and agricultural cultivation sites, these neonicotinoids must be eliminated. We must act now to save the butterflies before it is too late.
HOW do we make a change?
To affect change, ask policymakers to increase taxes on these harmful pesticides and lower them on natural, mint, hot pepper, and garlic-based insecticides. Insect infestations can be easily avoided with garlic insecticide sprays (made of vegetable oil, 2 cloves of garlic, water, and mild liquid soap), chile pepper insecticide sprays, or even soap sprays. The aromas of these alternatives to chemical pesticides are easily detectable to most insects, making them avoid affected plants while not causing harm to their beings. Natural aroma pesticides and insecticides will save the future populations of the beautiful butterfly. A friend to all, we cannot let chemicals destroy their chances of survival. It is crucial that all neonicotinoid chemicals become not as easily accessible as they are today. Butterflies play a crucial part in the environmental well being of our planet, pollinating, serving as indicators of important changes, and bringing such elegant beauty to nature. As bee populations additionally continue to decline, it has become more important than ever to save their winged friends. Help raise taxes on butterfly and bee killing neonicotinoid insecticides and make natural ones more easily accessible to the general public. Sign the petition below that will be sent to local Los Angeles finance department as well as the L.A. environmental health district office.
Not convinced? Follow the attached link to a video where young Chloe expresses her sentiments toward the decline in butterfly populations.