Gardeners can help protect butterfly populations

Bees aren’t the only pollinators suffering from a massive North American die-off. Butterflies and moths, those flying flowers of the insect world, are disappearing too.

“But the situation isn’t hopeless,” says Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, in Portland, Oregon. “Anybody — gardeners or butterfly lovers — can make an oasis in their landscape for these important animals. It doesn’t matter if you have a tiny lot or a farmyard. A little effort can help a lot.”

Besides their beauty, butterflies and moths play a significant role in the pollination of flowering plants, 80 per cent of which rely on animals — mostly insects — to move their pollen from plant to plant, the Xerces Society says. Butterflies and moths also serve as an important food source for other animals.

Yet in the United States alone, at least five butterfly species have gone extinct since 1950; an additional 25 are listed as endangered nationwide, and four are listed as threatened, according to Xerces in its new guide, “Gardening for Butterflies” (Timber Press, 2016).

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