Lack of butterflies

Mark Walker mwalker at
Wed Aug 5 11:12:14 EDT 1998

Peter Relf wrote:

>Here in the UK there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of
>butterflies in recent years.  This has been put down to (a) removal of
>hedgerows and other natural habitats by farmers and land developers,  and
>intensive use of insecticides by farmers.
>Are those problems a cause of the decrease in butterfly population in the
>as well ??

While I agree with Anne Kilmer regarding the damaging effects of
over-development, I don't think it appropriate to blame the current
phenomenon in the U.S. on man-made habitat destruction.  First of all, many
of the species that seem to be down in numbers are well adapted to various
habitats including the synthetic ones being introduced by bulldozers.
Second of all, the weather really has been unrelenting.  It's hard to tell
if the lower activity is the result of mortality or just patient pupa.   If
we fail to have an explosion in the NE U.S. (which may be happening as I
type) this early summer, it will be interesting to see if this natural
pressure has a lasting effect into next year.  One thing that can be said is
that with the increase in human expansion, certain species are likely to
have much more difficulty surviving the periodic yet predictable naturally
occurring environmental pressures.

Mark Walker
Castleton, VT

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