was Monarchs: Eucalyptus.. now is exotics

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Sun Jan 27 09:53:10 EST 2002

I find this discussion on Monarchs and the fight over introducing more
Eucalyptus pretty interesting - especially in light of the ongoing problems
that exist in south Florida (where there has been a several centuries raping
of habitat through the introduction of exotic flora and fauna).

Here's my thought:  we are probably arguing with passion two completely
separate issues here.  Part of us wants to see more Monarchs at any cost -
perhaps even to the extent of putting them where they didn't occur before.
Another part of us understands that nothing remains the same when we start
moving things around that had previously taken eons to stabilize.  Take the
eucalyptus problem in California.  Nasty things only when you realize that
they don't belong here.  While the stands never look natural here, I have
seen them provide shelter for Monarchs where the Monarchs would otherwise
not have been (not much Monterey Pine south of Santa Barbara).

Florida is another interesting case.  There are thousands of acres of
introduced pine and other nasty exotics that thrive and have virtually taken
over parts of the Everglades.  In fact, they were planted for just that
purpose - to suck up the swamp water and provide more dry land for
development (didn't they name a county after the guy who came up with THAT
idea?).  Of course, there was virtually no place for people to live before
that, so it's all relative.  The drying of south Florida provided habitat
for humans who further planted orchards and gardens - all which encouraged
and sustained a wide variety of creatures that would be reported for
generations by newly introduced "naturalists".  Now virtually all of that
dry land is being consumed by development, so fewer of the bugs that have
been enjoyed there over the past 150 years are now disappearing.  Meanwhile,
the swampland seems to be continuing to dry up.  Foresters and other
wildlife officials are making an attempt to destroy much of the remaining
exotics - at least on parkland (as you travel you'll see stands of the dead
pine and, ironically, possibly mistake them for legitimate habitat loss).
Still, without the patchy dry land that exists along roadsides we probably
would never enjoy bugs like the great Euphyes skippers - which readily come
to exotic roadside nectar sources amongst the sea of swampgrass and palmetto

Much of the above is anecdotal - perhaps someone who is better at archiving
historical data can provide us with links to the real story.

Mark Walker.
Oceanside, CA



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