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Tag Archive | "butterflies"

Rare butterflies make news


Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Human health is aided by rare butterfly protection. Long term human economic interests are protected by aiding endangered butterflies. There are short term economic expenses that create concerns whether effort should maintain healthy habitats that serve people, butterflies and other organisms. Maintaining components of an ecosystem does not make sense to some people.

Paul Ehrlich described the importance well. He said if you are flying on a jet and a rivet pops off, it is not too concerning. When additional rivets holding the plane together come off, passenger concern increases. When enough rivets disappear the plane will dismember and crash, killing all on board.

Species in habitats are like rivets on a plane. There is little concern when one species disappears. As more disappear, our human economy and health falters when ecological services fail. Many cases document ecosystem simplification that caused human economic loss and death. The famous potato famine is just one example causing massive human death and a country’s economic collapse.

In 2000, a West Michigan Butterfly Association member, Kathy Bowler, discovered a population of the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly along the White Pine Trail in Algoma Township. Kent County was not known to have this species. Mo Nielsen and I verified the identification. Successful efforts by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan established the Maas Preserve to protect the habitat.

The Grand Rapids Press interviewed Leon Uplinger and me. Leon was Algoma township supervisor at the time. The press reported Leon thought all the fuss over a few butterflies is a waste of time and he did not expect the township to join any preservation efforts. He further stated, “I take the position that I would rather help a human life rather than another creature.”

I was invited to address community members in the Berrien Springs area regarding a different endangered species back then. The least expensive highway construction would likely impact the survival of the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly and possibly push it to extinction. An alternative that protected the environment costed more money but protected the environment, sustaining human community health. Some people felt like Leon did about the Karner Blue and some thought the habitat needed protection.

When our focus is narrow, we do not recognize how other creatures and the environment maintain economic, social, and environmental health for us, our kids, and future generations. The Karner Blue and Mitchell Satyr are rivets in the local ecosystem. Losing them is like losing two rivets from a jet. Environmental components needed by butterflies are also needed by humans. Nature Niches are connected in ways that are not obvious but they serve humans and other creatures.

The Mitchell Satyr depends on groundwater instead of surface water to support its habitat. The water picks up minerals and carries them to surface wetlands that support a unique variety of fen organisms that would not otherwise survive. The fen water feeds surface streams maintaining water quality. The wetlands serve human uses beyond simply saving a few butterflies. The least expensive highway proposed would damage surface habitat and groundwater with negative impact on human communities.

The short view was that greater expense to protect the environment and butterfly hurt people economically. The long view was that a greater expense protected the butterfly, community groundwater supplies, filtered pollutants from getting into surface water, enhanced fishing and hunting habitat, protected farmland, maintained pristine habitat for human enjoyment and maintained essential ecological functions provided by many species. Do you support the short or long view? Protection of the Endangered Species Act takes the long view. Efforts continue to undermine and eliminate the Endangered Species Act. Political parties are now separated by short and long view efforts.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net or Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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A boost for Michigan bees and butterflies


OUT-Boost-bees-and-butterflies

Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

Federal dollars are flowing into Michigan to help bee and butterfly species struggling to thrive.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Michigan and Wisconsin $500,000 from the service’s competitive State Wildlife Grants program to restore 850 acres of habitat.

Jim Hodgson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional chief of the Midwest Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, says the hope is to prevent troubled pollinators from becoming endangered.

“These species are very dependent on grassland habitats, and we’re seeing a decline in those types of habitats and because of that these types of species of butterflies and bees are losing their homes,” he explains.

Targeted species include two bumblebee species, the petitioned monarch butterfly and the endangered Karner blue butterfly.

Hodgson says prescribed fires, invasive plant control and seeding are among the strategies that will be used to increase the number of host plants.

Michigan expects to restore 600 acres of habitat, and Wisconsin more than 250 acres.

Hodgson notes the Wildlife Service will monitor the outcomes to determine the most effective methods for pollinator conservation.

“Once the habitat is restored, the plan is to start seeing at least localized improvement in the species in those particular areas, and hopefully it will start expanding into other parts and areas of the Midwest as other projects are undertaken,” he explains.

The competitive State Wildlife Grants program awarded a total of $2.2 million to five Midwest states for conservation efforts.

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Participate in butterfly outing


Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Discover butterflies in a variety of local habitats with those knowledgeable in butterfly identification. It is a great way to begin learning some of the 170 species known to Michigan. Join some or all of the West Michigan Butterfly Association counts for fun and learning.

Counts are sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) and cost $3 for each participant. The money is sent to NABA to create a publication that documents butterfly abundance, distribution, and trends. Scientists make good use of citizen science data. Become a citizen scientist. Between 17 and 22 different counts are held in Michigan annually. Your help spotting butterflies is desired.

To find species and count numbers, we carpool to various sites during the day in the designated circle with a 15-mile diameter. The purpose is to have a good time outdoors, learn to identify species, learn habitat associations, behavior, and nature niche needs. Come for part or stay all day. Consider joining our West Michigan butterflies Association—membership $5/year.

Bring a bag lunch, plenty to drink, snacks, and dress with lightweight long sleeves and pants to protect from any biting insects or raspberry thorns. We explore off trails when searching for butterflies.

Dates and meeting locations:

June 19, 2016 (Sun) 9:00 a.m. Allegan Butterfly Count – Allegan Co. 

  Leader: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

Meet at the Fennville Allegan State Game Area headquarters, 6013 118th Ave, Fennville

odybrook@chartermi.net

June 21, 2016 (Tues) 9:00 a.m. Newaygo County Butterfly Count Newaygo Co. 

Leader: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

Meeting at Plum’s Grocery parking lot at

The corner of M82 & M 37 in Newaygo.

odybrook@chartermi.net

June 24, 2016 (Fri) 9:00 a.m. Rogue River Butterfly Count  – Kent Co.

Leader: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

(Kent, Newaygo, Montcalm Counties)

Meet at Howard Christensen Nature Center

Welcome Center 16160 Red Pine Dr. Kent City

odybrook@chartermi.net

July 24, 2016 (Sun) 9:00 a.m. Greater Muskegon Butterfly Ct – Muskegon Co.

Leader: Dennis Dunlap 

Meet on Mill Iron Road from M-46 (Apple Ave.) east ofMuskegon at second set of power lines that cross the road north of MacArthur Road.

dunlapmd@charter.net

Rain day alternates will be the next day.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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BEE One in a Million


BLOOM-Bee-one-in-a-millon

BLOOM-Bee-one-in-a-million-logoResidents have a chance to become part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC), a nationwide call to action to create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across America.

The challenge was launched by The National Pollinator Garden Network, which collectively represents nearly one million active gardeners and 15,000 schoolyard gardens. The Network is challenging the nation to reach the goal of one million additional pollinator gardens by the end of 2016. The Network will work to provide resources for individuals, community groups, government agencies and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat through sustainable gardening practices and conservation efforts.

They hope to move millions of individuals, kids and families outdoors and make a connection between pollinators and the healthy food people eat.

Any individual can contribute by planting for pollinators and joining this effort to provide a million pollinator gardens across the United States. Every habitat of every size counts, from window boxes and garden plots to farm borders, golf courses, school gardens, corporate and university campuses. Everywhere we live, work, play and worship can, with small improvements, offer essential food and shelter for pollinators.

“If we all work together—individuals, communities, farmers, land managers, and local, state, and federal agencies—we can ensure that every American child has a chance to enjoy the beauty of creatures like bees, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife

Federation. “By joining forces with the National Pollinator Garden Network on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, the National Wildlife Federation and our affiliates are amplifying these collective efforts to address the growing threats affecting so much of America’s treasured wildlife.”

Pollinators Gardens should do the following:

• use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources

• provide a water source

• be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks

• create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants

• establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season

• eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.

Learn more at www.millionpollinatorgardens.org and join the discussion on Twitter through the hashtag #PolliNation.

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Ten ways to help bees and butterflies thrive


 

You can help bees and butterflies thrive by creating natural habitats.

You can help bees and butterflies thrive by creating natural habitats.

(NAPS)—Here’s news that’s created a buzz. Three-quarters of the world’s flowering plants and food crops rely on pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies to help them reproduce.

Unfortunately, bee populations are being threatened by a range of issues, such as colony collapse disorder, pesticides, mites, disease and climate change. Butterfly populations are also at risk.

The good news is that gardeners can help restore balance by creating habitats that encourage pollinators to thrive.

Bees and butterflies need places to live and breed in, and food to eat. The plants that provide this food also need pollinators to help them reproduce, so planting gardens that are friendly to bees and butterflies is a win-win situation.

Pollination occurs naturally as small creatures forage for food, carrying pollen from plant to plant as they go. That is why it’s important to offer them a “buffet” of attractive flowers throughout the seasons, and to have sufficient natural habitats so that they don’t have to travel far to find what they need.

Here are 10 easy ways to help:

1) BEE friendly to bees! Honeybees are not aggressive; they sting only as a defense mechanism.

2) Plant trees, shrubs and flowering plants to increase food and shelter for bees and butterflies.

3) Create a seasonal buffet for pollinators by planting perennial flowers with a mix of colors, shapes and scents in containers, window boxes and plant beds.

4) Choose perennials with simple, single rather than double flowers to make nectar and pollen more accessible to bees and butterflies.

5) Cut and use garden flowers for bouquets to encourage re-blooming and to prolong the foraging window for pollinators.

6) Use beautiful native plants such as echinacea, coreopsis, sunflowers and butterfly milkweed for at least 75 percent of your garden.

7) Water, weed and fertilize soil appropriately to create a healthy garden that minimizes pests and diseases.

8) Provide clean water for insects in shallow bowls, birdbaths and ponds, or let fresh water drip over stones.

9) Imperfection is OK! Bees and butterflies may damage leaves and flowers while breeding and feeding. Create areas of natural habitat with old stumps, fallen branches and tall grass for nesting.

10) Help convert small parcels of land into community gardens and green spaces to create closely linked areas for bees and butterflies to visit.

Burpee offers a wide range of seeds and plants that are attractive to bees and butterflies. All of Burpee’s seeds are Non-GMO.

To learn more about protecting pollinators, visit the website www.burpee.com/pollinators or call Burpee at (800) 888-1447.

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Gradual Metamorphosis


by Ranger Steve Mueller

 

As a child I collected butterflies in fallow farm fields near my home.  I recall rearing large numbers of mourning cloaks and tent caterpillars.  The joy of the metamorphosis was miraculous and butterflies were released to “live and be happy”.  When I collected adults, I recall how difficult it was to kill such splendid creatures in my killing jar. Collecting allowed me to study details that were otherwise not possible. More than once I released specimens too near death to ever recover completely.  That may have been improper treatment for those poor individuals but a child has a unique view and understanding of life.

All too rapidly the fallow farm fields became housing developments and that angered and disappointed me.  The loss of habitat was crucial in my development as a lepidopterist.  As a seven year old, I recognized human population expansion was squeezing other life off the planet and by age 19 I decided to limit my own family to no more than two children. I developed understanding and reasons for collecting and studying these wonderful creatures whose presence declined proportionally with development and human population growth.

In addition to observing life histories, my efforts to collect, kill, and classify intensified so I could learn ways to sustain species and life.  I gradually metamorphosed in my understanding for taking the delightful insects from nature. It was essential to study details that help species survive. The research led me to discover distribution of species not known to live in Michigan and Utah. Scientific collecting allowed me to document hundreds of new County records where species were not known to live. Collecting even resulted in the discovery of a new species called the Brilliant Virgin Tiger Moth (Grammia brillians) at my Bryce Canyon National Park research site.

My three-year-old daughter, Jenny Jo, collected with me when young and clearly instructed me to release specimens from the net so they could “live and be happy”.  Thus I saw a new generation of lepidopterist beginning her metamorphosis. I thought her development and collecting efforts might help butterflies “live and be happy”. Now grown, her efforts do not include study of butterflies but she developed a love for life and joy for nature’s biodiversity. She lives conservatively to sustain life on Earth for all species.

Jenny helped me again see the miraculous nature of butterfly existence that a child sees. A three-year-old renewed my efforts to help butterflies “live and be happy” – a thought sometimes difficult for the adult perspective but one we should never lose.

Live a life that conserves nature niches.

Adapted from July 1983 article published in the Lepidopterists’ Society News

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.  616-696-1753.

 

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Monarch Migration Plight


OUT-Nature-Niche-MonarchPopulationEstimate_graphic3By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

In September people see Monarch butterflies migrating south.

Mrs. Tacoma, a kindergarten teacher at Cedar Trails Elementary, collects Monarch caterpillars on milkweed plants and feeds them until they form a chrysalis. When the adult butterfly emerges to pump fluid into its bright orange wings, students see a miracle that most people have not witnessed. Once fluid has dried in the butterfly’s wing veins, the class releases it for a 2000-mile journey to south central Mexico.

This year fewer Monarchs will be migrating. It has been a rough year and decade for survival. Dr. Lincoln Brower predicted long ago that migrating Monarchs would become a thing of the past during the first decades of the 21st century. It is hoped his prediction will prove wrong. The predictions of Brower and other scientists are based on several factors that have been building to diminish wildlife in North America.

Dr. ‘Chip’ Taylor, of Monarch Watch, highlighted factors. He said, for monarch recovery, we need to create a lot of milkweed habitat and need to mobilize people to do it to save wildlife, by creating habitats in yards and gardens. He continued that gardeners across this country could help by planting milkweed and using native plants to stabilize native pollinator communities. People now have another purpose for creating a garden. The purpose is conservation.

Taylor identifies factors that have led to the sharp drop in the monarch population.

1. Monarch numbers seen each year in the eastern United States and Canada are determined by the amount of habitat that remains. New roads, housing developments, and agricultural expansion serving a growing human population transform a natural landscape in ways that make it impossible for Monarchs to live.

2. Month to month temperature and moisture conditions are critical factors and are affected by climate change. Climate change is well documented but the question of how much is human caused is still not precise. It is clear human activities are affecting the rate of climate change but quantifying exactly how much is exceedingly difficult.

3. Increased planting of genetically modified corn in the U.S. Midwest promotes greater use of herbicides, which in turn kills milkweed. Monarch decline is coincident with the adoption of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans. We’re basically creating a desert out there, except for the corn and the soybeans.

4. The increase of soybean and corn crops as bio-fuels has reduced wildlife habitat.

5. Extreme weather events threaten to become more common and may have a negative impact on Monarch populations and other wildlife.

6. Taylor points out that sustaining the monarch migration will be a challenge that requires support and cooperation of Canada, the United States and Mexico. This is symptomatic of issues affecting plant and animal nature niches and may impact our national wellbeing.

7. As human populations grows, lumbering, clearing land for growing food and grazing cattle reduces space essential for survival of other life forms, on which society is dependent.

8. Our own population is projected to increase by two billion people by 2040 so Taylor doesn’t see the monarch in that future world. Our population cannot continually grow and also maintain a healthy world. We are going to see a lot of changes. There are natural restrictions on how fast populations can grow based on food production, declining arable land, and limitations of water. If we don’t get with it and if we don’t start modifying our behavior, life is going to get to be pretty tough.

He says the Monarch issue is his way of introducing people to the larger issues.

9. Monarch over wintering sites are vulnerable for a number of reasons. A census taken at the monarchs’ wintering grounds found their population had declined 59 percent over the previous year and was at the lowest level ever measured.

Italics in this article are my commentary additions. To read Taylor’s complete discussion go to http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_the_causes_of_sharp__decline_of_the_monarch_butterfly/2634/

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

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Butterfly Exhibit delights


A kindergartner enjoys a butterfly on her shoulder during a field trip to FMG last week. Photo by S. Read

By Sarah Read

Seventy-five homeschoolers filled Frederik Meijer Gardens last week during a field trip organized by Greenville Michigan Inclusive Connection for Home Learners to visit the popular Butterflies are Blooming exhibit. As the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibit in the nation, the FMG exhibit is open from March 1–April 30 and features more than 6,000 tropical butterflies flying free in the 15,000-square-foot Lena Meijer Conservatory.

More than 6,000 tropical butterflies are flying free in the Lena Meijer Conservatory until April 30. Photo by S. Read

This is the second annual trip for G-MICH to this exhibit, where students of all ages could enjoy an up close look at butterflies, their eating habits, living chrysalis in various stages and more. “[Our] family had a great time,” shared homeschool mother, Kristin Harrison. “[There was] fantastic weather.”
Prior to the field trip, G-MICH hosted a 3-hour unit study on butterflies at their weekly learning cooperative. Students created the butterfly life cycle with dried pasta, read various butterfly books, made butterfly feeders and experimented with rope to measure the length and strength of a cocoon thread.
To learn more about this home learning support group, please visit www.greenvillemichiganhomeschoolers.com

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