Poor butterflies

Paul Cherubini cherubini at mindspring.com
Wed Sep 27 15:54:55 EDT 2000

Pierre A Plauzoles wrote:

> Habitat destruction is indeed a major problem, as are pollution and the
> excessive and often inappropriate use of pesticides.

These factors impact the diversity of lep species, but not necessarily the
general abundance (biomass) of leps. For example, if you want to see how
fast butterflies you can clog your car's radiator, take a drive through
California's San Joaquin Valley right now along roads that border
alfalfa fields. These fields are alive with thousands of alfalfa butterflies 
on the wing during Sept.  

Also, take a drive around the alfalfa fields of the midwestern USA
in mid-September and you will find a tremendous abundance of
monarchs, painted ladies, red admirals, hairstreaks, etc. licking up the rich 
nectar found in alfalfa blossoms.

Then set up your mercury vapor light at night in the middle of
an orchard or row crop and marvel at the massive numbers of leps 
that thrive in monocultures despite pesticide use. And don't forget
the mosquito repellant - lots of biting nocturnal dipterans also thrive
in and around monocultures.

Paul Cherubini

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