Posts tagged: wildlife

If The Bee Disappears From The Surface Of The Earth…

If The Bee Disappears From The Surface Of The Earth
Image © fotolia.com (under license)

The Importance Of Bees:

Pollination Work Of Bees: Bees are vital for the preservation of the ecosystem as they help keep ecological balance and biodiversity in nature. They provide one of the most important ecological services: Pollination, which makes food production possible. [1] Bees make excellent pollinators as they collect pollen, a source of protein that they feed to their offspring. Bees collect pollen from the flowers through electrostatic force and attach to the hair on their bodies and transfer to another flower. Bees account for 90-95 % of all insect pollination. [2] By pollination, they perform a vital function which allows the ecosystem and plant species to propagate. They also contribute to the genetic and biotic diversity of plant species.

Wildlife Habitats: Many people forget that forest trees require pollination in order for fertile seeds to be produced. Bees, in their role as pollinators, thus play a vital role in forest growth – including both tropical and temperate forests. Many tree species – for example willows and poplars – depend on bees for pollination. Not only wild environments but backyard gardens, which serve as the home for many birds and insects, require the pollination of plants for their survival.

Biodiversity: Bees make an essential contribution to biodiversity, due to their work as pollinators. [3] Pollination enables the propagation of trees and diverse other plant species. Plants in turn then function as habitats for animal life. The contribution bees make to complex ecosystems is enormous and without them it is likely that very many other species might become extinct.

Food Source: Bees produce honey to feed their colonies during cold winter. Humans as well as raccoons, opossums, and other insects also use it as a food source.

Here’s something you CAN do to help… plant bee-friendly plants!

Top 10 Plants To Encourage Bees To Your Garden: http://off-grid.info/blog/top-10-plants-to-encourage-bees-to-your-garden/

16 oz Of Honey Requires 1152 Bees To Travel 112,000 Miles: http://herbshealthhappiness.com/16-oz-of-honey-requires-1152-bees-to-travel-112000-miles/

References:

[1] Delaplane, K.S., D.R. Mayer, and D.F. Mayer, Crop pollination by bees. 2000: Cabi. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZHGZkXa7xE4C&oi=fnd&pg=PR12

[2] Majewski, J., Economic Value of Pollination of Major Crops in Poland. Economic Science for Rural Development, 2014. 34: p. 14-21. https://llufb.llu.lv/conference/economic_science_rural/2014/…/.pdf

[3] Abrol, D.P., Pollination biology: biodiversity conservation and agricultural production. 2011: Springer Science & Business Media. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=clwm8CSIIdIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR3

4 Things You Can Do To Help The Monarchs

4 Things You Can Do To Help The Monarchs
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com

Monarch butterflies have experienced heavy population losses through a combination of causes. Here are some simple things that you can do.

1. Plant Milkweed (And Other “Butterfly Plants”): To ensure the population viability of monarchs, the best management approach is to restore the natural habitat and improving the already present habitat. The eastern North American migratory population of monarchs has decreased due to the decline in the host plants of milkweed. [1] In addition to native host milkweed plants for monarchs, it is important to plant nectar-rich plants for adult monarchs as they are dependent on nectar plants for spring food, summer breeding, and fall migrations.

2. Create a Monarch waystation: Monarch waystations can provide habitat to migrating monarch butterflies including food, shelter, and water. Using the public lands and even general public places for growing milkweed plants, nectar plants and locally adapted seeds combined with backyard gardens can create critical habitat for monarchs. [2]

3. Avoid Pesticides: Super important of course. The science is, as they say, settled: Monarch butterflies are going through a long-term population decline due to multiple factors including exposure to pesticides. Host milkweed plants are exposed to non-target pesticides as they often grow near the agricultural fields. The science is challenging because the amounts that affect the insect populations are miniscule, measured in nanograms. A study has found that monarch caterpillars consume a diversity of pesticides in their diet, with 14 pesticides detected on milkweed plants. [3] Pesticide exposure can be avoided by isolating the milkweed patches away from cropland.

4. Spread the Word: “Educate others about the importance of monarch conservation and what they can do to help.
Support conservation organizations to help create habitats and share their educational materials.” Monarch butterflies can be helped by studying, sharing information, educating and giving awareness to the people regarding their importance to the environment. Nature-based special interest groups can encourage people to take action in support of the conservation of monarch butterflies. [4]

Learn More:

Monarch Butterfly Endangered Species Act Listing “Found Warranted” By US Fish And Wildlife Service, But Resources Are Insufficient For Further Actions

References:

[1] Knight, S.M., et al., Strategic mowing of roadside milkweeds increases monarch butterfly oviposition. Global Ecology and Conservation, 2019. 19: p. e00678. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351989419301271

[2] Landis, T.D., Monarch waystations: propagating native plants to create travel corridors for migrating monarch butterflies. Native Plants Journal, 2014. 15(1): p. 5-16. http://npj.uwpress.org/content/15/1/5.short

[3] Olaya Arenas, P.A., PESTICIDE EXPOSURE RISK AND DEVELOPMENTAL CONSEQUENCES FOR MONARCH BUTTERFLIES IN AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES. 2019, Purdue University Graduate School. https://hammer.figshare.com/articles/thesis/PESTICIDE…/

[4] Lewandowski, E.J. and K.S. Oberhauser, Butterfly citizen scientists in the United States increase their engagement in conservation. Biological Conservation, 2017. 208: p. 106-112. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320715300367

Monarch Butterfly Endangered Species Act Listing “Found Warranted” By US Fish And Wildlife Service, But Resources Are Insufficient For Further Actions

Monarch Butterfly Endangered Species Act Listing "Found Warranted" By US Fish And Wildlife Service, But Resources Are Insufficient For Further Actions
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com

After a detailed review, the US Fish And Wildlife Service has made a conclusive statement in a December 2020 Press Release, regarding insecticide use and the Monarch Butterfly. US FWS “Pesticide Supplemental Materials” for the Monarch states (p.15):

“Based on insecticide chemical characteristics and use; and the exposure potential, laboratory toxicity tests, field studies, and models presented herein, insecticides are a threat to monarch populations. This is primarily due to insecticides being used in areas on the landscape where monarchs occur; the fact that insecticides are designed to kill insects (and in many cases specifically target lepidopteran species); insecticides are likely to cause both lethal and nonlethal effects to non-target lepidopterans that are exposed in areas of application (such as crops fields, city parks, natural areas, residential areas, and yards and gardens); and may cause both lethal and nonlethal effects to non-target insects that are exposed from drift by droplet, vapor, and dust in areas outside of application sites and from systemic incorporation into non-target plant tissues.” [1]

Full scientific reports can be found at https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/SSA.html

Environmentalists have been sounding the alarm for years about the threat of agricultural chemicals to non-target species (French farmers were furious about “carpets of dead bees” following neonicotinoid insecticide use as far back as the late 1990’s!) but it seems to have taken until now for this to be “officially accepted” in the case of the monarch. It’s a step forward – yet despite the monarch’s status now being listed as endangered / threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, resources will be directed towards “higher priority actions”. Presumably this means “even more endangered” species.

Translation: They would love to do something about it, but can’t afford it.

No doubt there are species that are even closer to extinction. But at least 90% of monarchs have been reported wiped out. How far does it have to go?

Of course, we all know what governments prefer to allocate funds towards. It’s so sad and tragic. How much do they need? What about the private sector. They have funds. Surely there is at least one billionaire that gives a damn……? Elon? Jeff?

Numerous insecticides were reviewed. The work is highly technical and one of the challenges is the minute amounts of chemicals involved. Exposure levels sufficient to pose a hazard to the creatures are often in nanograms. However not only insecticides but herbicides have come under attack. As reported in 2015 (Wikipedia):

“Use of glyphosate to clear milkweed along roads and fields may have contributed to a decline in monarch butterfly populations in the Midwestern United States.[173] Along with deforestation and adverse weather conditions,[174] the decrease in milkweed contributed to an 81% decline in monarchs.[175][176] The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a suit in 2015 against the EPA, in which it is argued that the agency ignored warnings about the dangers of glyphosate usage for monarchs.” [2]