Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
What’s a butterfly garden without butterflies? – Roy Rogers
Before there were flowers on Earth, there were butterflies. And moths.
That’s what scientists found after analyzing 70 fossils of wing scales and scale fragments unearthed in northern Germany. These 200-million-year-old fossils, which date to the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, are the oldest evidence on record of insects in the order Lepidoptera, the researchers said.
Some of the fossils share features with modern moths in the suborder Glossata, which have a straw-like proboscis that can suck up fluids like nectar. Given their complexity, and the time it would’ve taken to evolve to have such complex features, these fossils push the calculated age of glossatan moths back by about 70 million years to the Late Triassic “refuting ancestral association of the group with flowering plants.”
— from a study published online January 10, 2018 in the journal Science Advances
It’s hard to think of butterflies without envisioning them among flowers. But we need to start imagining what Earth would be like without butterflies, because we are losing them.
It’s not a pretty picture:
In February, 2017, the annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies “confirms butterfly numbers fell by nearly one-third from last year’s count, indicating ongoing risk of extinction for America’s most well-known butterfly. Scientists report that this year’s population is down by 27 percent from last year’s count, and down by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s. This year’s drastic decline is attributed in part to more extreme winter storms that killed millions of monarchs last March in Mexico’s mountain forests where 99 percent of the world’s monarchs migrate for the winter.”
From the same report:
A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that there is a substantial probability that monarch butterflies east of the Rockies could decline to such low levels that they face extinction. Researchers estimate the probability that the monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years is between 11 percent and 57 percent.
“In addition to threats from more frequent and harsher weather events, monarchs are still severely jeopardized by the ever-increasing pesticides used with genetically-engineered crops destroying their habitat,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety . . .
The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) on Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in Midwest corn and soybean fields.
Of course, Monarch butterflies aren’t the only ones in trouble. Other butterflies, moths, and bees are also experiencing big declines in numbers. Evidence points to the order Lepidoptera being almost ten times older than Homo erectus, and to Anthophila (bees) having been on Earth for about 120 million years. Yet it’s really possible they will be wiped out before the next turn of a century.
If we continue to ignore how pollinators make the food we depend on possible, it puts all of humankind at risk. But we will also face the loss of beauty that has been an inspiration to us for centuries. We need them, for body and soul.
by Harun Al Nasif
My very birth sent forth a tremor
through the earth and heavens,
that unique frisson caused a stir
across the whole universe,
In the mosaic stretching
from the north-pole to the south-pole
it keeps engraved the perpetual hallmark
with great grace,
In the seamless muslin of the blowing
air tier by tier
is laced precisely the adroit tapestry
of that solitary resonance,
It’s trace is held with the fragrance
emanating from the florescence of time,
All over the ever-expanding space
its blooming buds are strewn
delineated with the streaks of lightning,
In all the organisms of the ocean
and every fold of the brine
the exact graphic grandeur of its culmination
is drawn exquisitely with subtle touch
Once just the first breath of mine
growing into a turbulent typhoon
swept across the wide continent
with its boisterous billow
But today how do you show
such sardonic bravado to deny me
in immense ignorance,
Want to flout my abiding impulse
in a sheer negligence
as the trivial flutter of a trifling butterfly?
Without my hues the azure
would not have grown so cerulean
or the fauna verdant as much –
Despite knowing all these
should you have the audacity
to negate my distinct contributions
in the vibrant soiree of this colorful world,
shall I understand,
you want the drab and dreary wilderness
to reign over the entire creation.
Look, have I not been here,
the visage of this vast landscape
kissing the sky-line
have never turned out to be as such,
in no way.
Who knows not that my arrival
has totally changed the panorama
of the operations of nature time and again?
But for my emergence,
the propelling tempo of the world
would have fallen into a stupor
and the wheel of eternity
would have come to a grinding halt.
- Monarch butterfly coffee mug
- Monarch butterfly on rose
- Spotted Purple Swallowtail butterfly
- Niagara Parks Green butterfly
- Azure Starry Night Cracker butterfly
- Meadow Brown butterfly