Celebrating the Butterfly

Butterflies

 

Butterflies are found on every continent but Antarctica. The U. S., alone, is home to about 700 different species of this beautiful and loved insect. Butterflies play a number of roles in the ecosystem. They act as a pollinator and as a food source for other species, acting as an important connector in a thriving ecosystem web

Pollinating Plants

Nearly 90 percent of all plants need a pollinator to reproduce and as bee populations drop, the role of the butterfly becomes even more vital. Without these wonderful insects, many plant species would then be unable to reproduce and their populations would dramatically decrease without the butterfly’s presence. We would see this effect in a number of plant species including wild flowers we have grown to love. This loss of plant life would affect both animals and humans.
Butterflies also provide assistance for genetic variation in the plant species they that they collect nectar from. Many species of butterfly migrate over long distances, which allows pollen to be shared across groups of plants that are far apart from one another. This helps plants to be more resilient against disease and gives them a better chance at survival.
Different species of butterfly can even provide effective pest control, naturally keeping plant populations healthy and disease free.

Providing Food for Other Animals

Butterflies also act as a lower member of the food chain. They are a hearty meal for a number of animals, including birds and mice. As populations of butterfly diminish, so will populations of birds and other animals that rely on them as a food source. This loss of the butterfly is the beginning of the “butterfly effect.” It will continue to affect the entire ecosystem, working its way up the trophic levels. Nearly two-thirds of all invertebrates can be connected  back to the butterfly on the food chain. The loss of this seemingly insignificant insect could, potentially collapse entire ecosystems that rely so heavily on them.

Article from Onegreenplanet.org

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