“Biodiversity starts in the distant past and it points toward the future.” ~ Frans Lanting
There are many things in springtime that get our gears in motion. First and foremost, the dozens of bird species who winter in Central and South America migrating through the Texas Gulf Coast corridor each spring have our undivided attention. If you’ve been following this blog even for a short time, you already know this! We only see a handful of migrants in the window of a few short weeks (weekends?) before they move on to summer nesting habitats north of us in the US and into Canada. Gotta catch ’em all.
Spring and fall migration is no different for many insect species as well, especially dragonflies, beetles, and butterflies and moths. The king of butterflies — the Monarch Butterfly — has become the poster child for insect migrants as their numbers have been decreasing rapidly over the last several years.
Some of us help them out by providing yard habitat — native and non-native milkweeds — for the females to lay their eggs on, their off-spring to feed on. Others of us just watch them with oo’s and ah’s as they busily flit from flower to flower in search of nectar.
Native Milkweed by the Creek
Intentionally Planted 2017
Migration for insects (and others) is about more than just moving around searching food and habitat; it’s about their species’ very survival, imprinted in DNA over millions of years of evolution. Annual journeys between winter and summer grounds can be thousands of miles, and these treks happen regardless of what’s going on in the human civilized facade.
But migrating animals can no longer expect to find what was there only months before. In only a few decades, we have made our country unrecognizable to Nature’s dwellers. Industrial agriculture, grazing pastures, cities, and roadways connecting humanity have all but replaced the wild spaces where their food used to grow. Their evolved habitats have all but disappeared; veritable food deserts remain in their place.
Doubles as Hidey Place for Others
(Like this Praying Mantid)
The butterfly cannot adapt as quickly to the ways of the human as we are changing the landscape, so it is on us to help however we can. We caused it …
Back in 2014, the US Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to add the Monarch butterfly to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The process of acceptance to this growing list is on-going; meanwhile their numbers continue to fall. It won’t be until 2019 when it either will or won’t be protected as an endangered species.
At the Front Walkway
First of Year: 1st Generation Monarch
This is the 1st of what will be four generations for the year. Let’s hope the 4th generation in autumn makes it to Mexico by winter, and that it makes its way back again in the spring, and most importantly that their species makes it onto the ESA list.
Like many more of our insect friends, fellow Earthlings who share this planet, the Monarch Butterfly needs all the help it can get.
- Insect Investation: Monarchs and Swallowtails, April 2017
- It’s the (Exoskeleton) Little Things, July 2015
- Shimmering Charades: Yard Butterflies, October 2016
Let the insect infestation begin!