A recent Gazette article, “Race against time for Miami blues,” detailed efforts to save this Floridian butterfly from extinction.
In Iowa, it’s worth noting that a number of butterfly species have recently gone extinct.
In the past two decades, the Silvery Blue, Common Ringlet, Purplish Copper, Poweshiek Skipperling and Dakota Skipper have disappeared from the state. These butterflies used to be found at as many as several dozen locations in Iowa, with up to 200 individuals at a single site. Other butterfly species in our state appear to be in steep decline.
Our situation mirrors what is being recorded around the world, with insect species losses of up to 45 percent.
Driving these losses are the use of more powerful pesticides and herbicides, loss of habitat, climate change and invasive species. Climate change is producing more heat waves, which have been shown to cause males of some insect species to become increasing sterile and unable to produce offspring.
Given a sizable percentage of crops are pollinated by insects, this loss should be of great concern. Insects are also critical to maintaining the integrity of the food chain, with birds, amphibians and various mammals reliant on insects as a food source.
Solutions include addressing climate change, reducing use of chemicals in our yards and on crops, and providing more habitat for the species with which we share the Earth.