The Importance of Butterflies and Preventing Their Decline - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-10-31
The Importance of Butterflies and Preventing Their Decline - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Animals
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1260 words
11 min read

The decline of butterflies mainly gets attributed to the extensive destruction of the natural habitats of the butterflies. These habitats include peat bogs and wildlife meadows. The destruction primarily associated with the increased farming endeavors, the building of infrastructures such as buildings for housing, and the development of roads (Crone). There has been a decline in the population of the butterfly species over the years. The life cycle of butterflies is composed of four main stages.

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The environmental changes lead to their decline as they impact the numerous life cycle stages. The different species of butterflies live in different locations. It is mainly dependent on the species and the stage of the butterfly in the life cycle (Crone). The butterflies usually have separate areas for laying of their eggs and for shelter. Such is the one quality of butterflies that significantly contributes to their decline. It is the case because of the majority of the habitats preferred by the species getting wiped off (Zografou et al. 50).

The decrease in the milkweed plants, as well as the presence of the disturbances in the breeding range of the butterfly in summer, has contributed significantly to the decline in the population of monarch butterflies. Such is the case because the monarch butterflies have a preference of laying their egg on the stems of young milkweed plants. The study conducted shows that these butterflies also prefer laying these eggs in predator-free spaces (Haan and Landis 191). Therefore, the changes in the summer ranges have had disastrous effects (Haan and Landis). The presence of more predators characterizes the shift to perennial grasslands, according to the research conducted by Haan and Landis. The presence of diverse and numerous predatory arthropods decreases the chances of survival of the monarch eggs.

Butterflies also have numerous predators. It is especially the case for the adult, caterpillars, and the pupa stage. The predators include birds, wasps, spiders, and frogs. The presence of predators contributes to the decline of these butterflies (Marini and Myron 6). The butterflies are more predisposed to attack from these predators, especially in instances when they come out from the chrysalis. In addition to the loss of their habitats, monarch butterflies have also experienced a shift in their habitats. In the previous years, most of the milkweed stems mainly located in the interiors of the annual crop field (Haan and Landis 191). However, in recent years, there has been a shift to perennial grasslands—the new habitats characterized by the presence of reserves, parks, ditches, and conservation reserve programs.

Because of the importance of the butterflies, the necessary steps must get taken to prevent their decline. One of the ways by which the reduction gets decreased is by avoiding the excessive use of pesticides in gardens (Luppi et al., 140). Pesticides are one of the major causes of the decline of butterflies. It is because they contain herbicides such as glyphosate. Such a herbicide contributes to the destruction of milkweed, which is vital for the survival of butterflies. The milkweed is especially significant as it gets fed on by the monarch larvae. The monarch butterflies also lay their eggs in the plant. It is, therefore, critical that the use of pesticides gets reduced to prevent the extinction of the monarch butterflies.

The reduction in the use of genetically engineered foods is one method essential in preventing the decline of the butterflies (Haan and Landis 191). Such is the case because these foods usually are characterized by increased resistance to herbicides. The resistance encourages the use of excessive amounts of these herbicides to achieve the elimination of the weeds (Haan and Landis 191). Such is demonstrated especially with the planting of crops such as herbicide-resistant corn and soybean. The use of excessive amounts of weeds destroys plants critical for butterfly survival. Planting more plants such as milkweed is a strategy capable of decreasing the decline of the butterflies. Planting such plants increases the biodiversity levels, which ultimately allows for the efficient and natural patterns of migration of the monarch butterflies.

The disturbance in the ecology is one of the primary reasons that help determine the levels of quality of the habitats used for breeding (Rada 220). It is the case because of its role in providing space that is free of predators and for the growth of phenologically attractive host plants. Studies have shown that the mowing of fields is associated with the increased regeneration of the milkweeds. Such restoration is essential in the provision of support to vast volumes of eggs and larvae.

There is an increase in the number of eggs laid on milkweeds that had undergone regeneration. It is in comparison to the milkweeds that had not been cut. The study conducted by Lada illustrates that the regenerated milkweeds also are associated with lower numbers of predators. It is because the predators take longer durations to recolonize. These predators take a duration of 2 to four weeks from the research conducted. Therefore, one way of preventing the decline of the monarchs is through the provision of disturbances during the growing season (Rada 221).

The effective design of landscapes that are monarch friendly is another mechanism of preventing the decline (Rada 220). The landscapes get designed to include more milkweeds. Such also established through the creation and establishment of heterogeneity in these agricultural landscapes. Increasing heterogeneity establishes biodiversity and contributes positively to the ecosystem (Thogmartin et al.). It is, therefore, essential that intensive agricultural activities get avoided. It is because they lead to the simplification of the landscapes, eventually leading to the loss of biodiversity in these areas (Rada 220).

Increasing the enrichment of nutrients on the soils is another strategy likely to decrease the decline of the monarchs from the research conducted by Haan and Landis. Such is the case because of the provision and availability of more nutritionally dense milkweeds that they can eat (Haan and Landis 191). According to the study, the growth rates of the monarchs are likely to increase with the presence of increased concentrations of foliar N. The increased enrichment of the nutrients also is critical in the reduction of the amounts of toxic cardenolides produced by milkweeds. The reduction is crucial because the cardenolides are responsible for decreasing the rate of growth of the monarch caterpillars and their survival rates (Haan and Landis 191). It is, therefore, critical that all the necessary measures are taken to prevent the destruction of the butterflies. Such is because of the vital roles that the butterflies have.

Works Cited

Rada, Stanislav, et al. “Protected areas do not mitigate biodiversity declines: A case study on butterflies.” Diversity and Distributions, vol. 25, no. 2, 2019, pp. 217-224.

Crone, Elizabeth E., et al. “Why are monarch butterflies declining in the West? Understanding the importance of multiple correlated drivers.” Ecological Applications, vol. 29, no.7,2019.

Haan, Nathan L., and Douglas A. Landis. “The importance of shifting disturbance regimes in monarch butterfly decline and recovery.” Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, vol.7,2019, pp. 191.

Thogmartin, Wayne E., et al. “Monarch butterfly population decline in North America: identifying the threatening processes.” Royal Society open science vol.4, no. 9, 2017.

Luppi, Massimiliano, et al. “Local and landscape drivers of butterfly richness and abundance in a human-dominated area.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, vol.254, 2018, pp. 138-148.

Marini, Lorenzo, and Myron P. Zalucki. “Density-dependence in the declining population of the monarch butterfly.” Scientific reports, vol.7, no.1, 2017, pp. 1-8.

Zografou, Konstantina, et al. “Severe decline and partial recovery of a rare butterfly on an active military training area.” Biological Conservation, vol. 216, 2017, pp. 43-50.

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