smoke and butterflies?

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Tue Sep 21 17:01:00 EDT 1999

We just returned from the Mato Grosso in Brazil where there was a
prolonged and serious dry season.  Fires were raging everywhere.
Ranchers try to maintain pasture quality by burning, to get rid of the
inedible grasses left being by their cattle, and allow the edible
species to grow. It's a self-defeating strategy in the long run and
destroys lots of other habits inadvertently. 

We were unable to land in Cuiaba (capital of Mato Grosso) because of the
dense smoke haze which closed the airport for up to 12 hours every day).

On the ground we found the smoke irritating at times and always
perceptible.  On the other hand we didn't get overheated despite air
temperatures lingering in the high 90's (ca 35-38C).  There was a lot of
butterfly activity with some familiar species (Gulf Fritillary=Agraulis
vanillae, Cloudless Sulfur=Phoebis sennae and a Queen=Danaus sp) among
others.  It's hard to know what it would have been like without the
drought and without the smoke, but there was a moderate amount of
butterfly cactivity which seemed unaffected by the amount of smoke. 

Mike Gochfeld

Kenelm Philip wrote:
>         On several occasions in Interior Alaska I have seen smoke plumes
> from forest fires that were dense enough to block the sun. The butterflies....

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