Seeking Solutions: E-Butterfly

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Yes it’s winter and for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere butterflies are few and far between this time of year. However summer will arrive soon enough and the skies will  once again graced with these butterflies large and small.

Butterflies are vital pollinators and their populations strongly affected by climate change. Research funding to study how climate change amongst other things effects butterflies is in short supply so researchers have created an online platform called E-Butterfly which allow individuals to log their butterfly sightings and photos into a database much like the platform E-Bird used by many in the birding community.

A recent interview with entomologist Kathleen Prudic the co-director of E-Butterfly was published in the Conversation. The data entered into E-Butterfly is used for numerous research projects including butterfly conservation and much like the data used on E-Bird can be used to visualize the migration of several butterfly species. E-Butterfly also contains informative articles any butterfly enthusiast would find interesting to read. It is a great way for us all to get involved in conservation and another addition to the ever expanding role of citizen science in conservation research.

Browsing the site is a fine way to spend a minute or two on a dreary winter day.

And for more information on Citizen Science visit Citizen Science. org

This year: One book at a time.


We don’t know about you but we tend to get over ambitious at times with books, especially reading them. Five or six books sitting proudly on the coffee table in living room each with a bookmark placed about 1/3 into the book. Each book calling your name when you plop down on the sofa to relax. You sit and stare back at them silently wondering how you will finish them all before they are due at the library. You get through one or two wonderful books but always feel like your not reading enough as you solemnly remove the bookmarks form the remaining three and whisk them off and into the return slot at the library. So this year it’s only one book at a time- from front to back- all the way though.

We recently came across a wonderful four part series on the best nature books of 2019 written by the Chicago Review of Books

. It is a very diverse list of nature books that will provide us some guidance in choosing and reading our one-book-at-a time in 2020.

Here are links to each of the four posts. The author of the articles Amy Brady stated in the part four of this series that this year has been the best in recent memory for nature writing. Looking though the lists is almost as fun as reading the books listed.
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

Anything catch your eye as a first read from these lists. Maybe because it’s winter and darkness comes early the book Dark Skies: a journey into the wild night By Tiffany Francis-Baker sounds like it might be first up this year.

At what cost?

A recent article presented on CNN titled “The insect apocalypse is coming: Here’s what you can do about it.” reports that up to 41% of insect species may face extinction in the coming decades. A major source for this article was a study authored by Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK. His report is titled “Insect Declines and Why They Matter.
Dr Goulsons report begins with a statement which will likely hit home to many of you

“In the last fty years, we have reduced the abundance of wildlife on Earth dramatically. Many species that were once common are now scarce. Much attention focusses on declines of large, charismatic animals, but recent evidence suggests that abundance of insects may have fallen by 50% or more since 1970. This is troubling, because insects are vitally important, as food, pollinators and recyclers amongst other things. Perhaps more frightening, most of us have not noticed that anything has changed. Even those of us who can remember the 1970s, and who are interested in nature, can’t accurately remember how many butterflies or bumblebees there were when we were children.”

We all know that insects, like em or leave em, are responsible for pollination of three quarters of our food crops. Thus we can expect to pay dearly if insect populations decline as predicted.

Dr Goulson is not alone in his assessment of the rate of potential insect decline. A review published by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G.Wyckhuys titled “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers” reaches similar conclusions citing habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species and climate change as primary drives of insect loss.1

Both studies suggest we can do a few things to stem the decline in insect populations like:

1 Plant a garden using plants that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

2.Create more insect habitat like a log or brush pile. These attract humble insects and invertebrates like woodlice, which recycle nutrients and act as food for birds and small mammals.

3.Voice your opinion to your local authorities. Push for planting native trees that flower on streets and parks and plant wildflowers in road medians.

4. Avoid using pesticides and encourage your friends, family and local government to do the same.

Besides their role in a functional ecosystem insects are darn cool to observe and photograph as well. At what cost we will begin see the beauty of life on earth.

Click on any photo to play slide show.

Reference:
1.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020

A few links on creating a pollinator friendly garden. Yes we are going into winter but it’s never too early to think about next years garden.

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/PollinatorGarden.html
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/gardening.shtml

a flies eyes

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It is always a surprise when we look closely and find a flies eyes attached to what we thought was a bees body. Using Batesian mimicry to look like a bee when your really a fly a bee-fly mimic and yellow-jacket mmimic enjoy a sip of nectar from a late blooming sedum plant.

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It is always a surprise and reason to take a closer look at the insects in the garden.

 

Hey Daddy-O

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Hey daddy-o what’s up?

Just hanging out enjoying the flowers in the garden.

Daddy Long Legs belong to a family of spiders Pholcidae, commonly known as cellar spiders, daddy long-legs spider, granddaddy long-legs spider, carpenter spider, daddy long-legger, vibrating spider and skull spider, is a family of araneomorph spiders first described by Ludwig Carl Christian Koch in 1850. It contains over 1800 species divided in 94 genera.”

Given the huge number of species might explain why we see them running about everywhere in the yard and often in the house all the time.