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Day 4: Butterflies

The Butterfly Effect – the idea that small things can have a non-linear impact on a complex system

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Butterflies teach us to expect the unexpected. By understanding that our eco-systems, our social systems and our economic systems are interconnected, we can foresee and hope to avoid detrimental actions that can impact our long-term presence on earth.

They are found at the base of the food chain and so when butterflies suffer, so does everything else above it creating the “butterfly effect.”

Butterflies are free from family obligations unlike our Honey Bees that you can read about in my last blog post: Day 3 Honeybees.

Being able to cover larger areas than most pollinators, butterflies provide assistance in the genetic variation of plant species. Their lax behavior and immense energy allow them to collect and hold nectar for a long period of time until they reach another flower that could be distances away.

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Given the immeasurable decline in bee population, butterflies are proving to be vital when it comes to our eco-system. As we know, bees carry out a larger percentage of pollination however, butterflies provide our eco-system with genetic diversity as they collect and transport pollen that are good distances from each other.

Genetic diversity within plants that butterflies pollinate will become more resistant to diseases and have a better chance of survival.

Eco-System Value

  • Early warning sign that something is not right – being that butterflies are very fragile insects, their quick reaction to any kind of change in the environment have been recognized by the government as clear indicators of biodiversity and the state at which our environment is in
  • Indicators of a healthy environment + eco-system
  • Areas that are rich in butterflies are rich in invertebrates that provide environmental benefits including pollination and pest control
  • Vital to the food chain – prey for birds, bats and others
  • Butterflies allow ecologists to study the impact of habitat loss, fragmentation and climate change

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Scientific Value

  • Help understand climate change
  • Used to study biological research – pest control, genetics, evolution, population dynamics, biodiversity conservation

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Butterfly Garden Necessities

  • Color is important – adult butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat-topped, clustered or have short flower tubes that require full sun.
  • Plant native flowering plants – install native plants local to your geographic area. Native plants provide butterflies with the nectar they need as adults and caterpillars.
  • Plant flowers that consistently bloom – Butterflies need nectar throughout their entire adult phase. Plant consistently; when a flower dies plant another.
  • Stop using pesticides – Pesticides get a bad rep, especially the toxic ones. Find pesticides that are natural and organic to decrease the death of many butterflies.
  • A place for “puddling” – Butterflies will extract minerals from puddles on the muddy ground as drinking water.
  • Provide a resting place – Butterflies need places to dry off and get ready for flight. Adding flat stones in your garden or large pebbles can give them a place to rest before takeoff.

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Plants that attract Butterflies

  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Calendula
  • Daylily
  • Sage
  • Marigold
  • Hollyhock
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Calendula
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnia
  • Fennel

Fun Facts:

  1. Butterflies taste with their feet
  2. Butterfly eyes are made of 6,000 lenses and can see ultraviolet lights like the color red
  3. Butterflies are essentially cold-blooded
  4. Butterfly wings move in a figure 8 motion
  5. Butterflies have a long, tube-like tongue called a “Proboscis” that allows them to soak up their food rather than sip it
  6. Butterflies are found on every continent expect Antarctica

 

I hope you enjoyed Bug Week!

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Please send in any suggestions or questions you would like me to blog about at Carly@oasisbackyardfarms.com !

X, Carly

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