December 5, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Butterflies

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I have missed seeing butterflies over the past few years so it has been a joy to suddenly see so many white ones these last couple of months.

There have been swarms of them particularly on my way to and from Bodden Town and on the arterial.

This was highlighted on CITN/Cayman27 last night on their news where DOE Terrestrial Resources Unit Manager Fred Burton said, “They are called the great southern white, they very often swarm in the summertime, but is not necessarily a very specific time of year. “You listen, and you think it is raining, but it is not raining. It’s the sound of one million caterpillars and their droppings are falling on the leaf litter. And you think OK, when this lot hatches there’s going to be some butterflies, and sure enough, it’s like boom.”

I was very surprised, though, when Burton added this year’s ‘boom’ is not as impressive as in years past.

He had earlier pointed out that East End is where the caterpillars that start the life of the butterflies are the most abundant and I rarely get to drive there. I believe they have migrated further west this year.

However, butterflies are getting less.

Two years ago The UK Guardian published a story by quoting Chris Packham, vice-president, who claimed there was a decline in butterflies species in over three quarters of the United Kingdom! This decline has gone on now for forty years.

“This is the final warning bell,” Packham,said, calling for urgent research to identify the causes for the disappearance of butterflies from ordinary farmland. “If butterflies are going down like this, what’s happening to our grasshoppers, our beetles, our solitary bees? If butterflies are in trouble, rest assured everything else is.”

His warning has been heard as conservation work in the UK is taking place and has had some success.

The report reveals that the causes of the decline in rare “habitat specialist” butterflies, who are only found in specific places such as chalk grassland, are well understood, and usually linked to the destruction of flower-rich grassland or neglect of traditionally coppiced woodland.

But the reasons for the disappearance of once-common species from the wider countryside are less well understood by scientists. The wall – an orange and brown species that often basks on walls and stones – has declined in abundance by 87% since 1976 and by 77% in its occurrence. So it is now seen in both much lower numbers and in many fewer locations. Climate change and pesticides may be playing a more damaging role in their declines than previously thought.

: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/15/decline-in-over-three-quarters-uk-butterfly-species-final-warning-says-chris-packham

I have certainly noticed a drop in the numbers of brown and red striped species that I used to see a lot here.

I don’t suppose there is any work being executed on our three islands on any butterfly conservation but hopefully I am wrong.

Butterflies have given me so much joy and I will always remember when I came out of my meningitis ‘coma’ the first thing I heard was the flapping of butterfly wings outside the open window of my hospital bed. I kid you not. My hearing was so sensitive and I was puzzled what the ‘loud’ noise was. I climbed out of the bed and looked. There was dozens of pretty butterflies around the flowers beneath the window.

“For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

Thank you butterflies. Twenty-four hours later I was discharged form the isolation hospital. That incident was over fifty years ago and I remember it, and can hear it still, as if it was yesterday.

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  1. […] Source: Cayman Eye News I have missed seeing butterflies over the past few years so it has been a joy to suddenly see so many white ones these last couple of months. There have been swarms of them particularly on my way to and from Bodden Town and on the East West arterial. This… Link: The Editor Speaks: Butterflies […]

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