Monday, April 21, 2008

flutter bye

I am not ashamed to admit I like butterflies. Sure, they're not the most masculine of creatures but in my book they've got a lot going for them. First off, they're really cool looking - in flight, or migration, or just hanging out on a rock or a flower. They also pollinate a lot of plants. And how about the way some will rhythmically fan their wings while stationary? Or the fact that they start off life as a caterpillar (a very cool creature in itself)? Face it, butterflies are bitchin' and you know it. You're probably thinking you'd like to be reincarnated as one right now.

I remember as a little kid living in Laguna Beach in the early 70's, seeing Monarch butterflies everywhere. They used to camp out in eucalyptus trees in my neighborhood. It was a migratory pattern for them to travel through on their way to Mexico or points north. They fluttered by everywhere. It was awesome. There were other butterflies around, too, and I dug all of them. Little did I know then I would live to see a rapid decline in their numbers. Butterflies worldwide have been hit hard by deforestation, development, pesticides, air pollution, and infections. In Britain, Sir David Attenborough is backing a project to help save butterflies and educate people of their intrinsic value and importance to ecosystems: These creatures are indicators, very sensitive to changes in the environment, similar to amphibians in that regard (don't get me started on salamanders - they're disappearing too and it pisses me off). Anyway, when indicator species start disappearing, it's time to pay attention and do something.


pranaglider said...

nice post and great photo as always.

But you gave away the answer to the trivia question "What were butterflies called before butter was widely known?".

So I am going to have to mark you down for that, blogger rules nothing personal.

Almost gone down here now. I experienced a swarm of monarchs up in SLO in the late 70's. Indescribable

Gazelle said...

I can't take credit for the photo - it's a web grab.

Changed the post title to more accurately reflect my point and avoid breaking any rules...

Daniel said...

Great post.
Those "swarms" can sometimes still be found in SLO county. The Pismo Bach over-wintering site pretty consistently hosts between 40,000 to 100,000 monarchs each winter as do a myriad of other sites along the SLO county coast. While monarchs themselves are not offered any protections (yet), over-wintering sites are considered critical habitat and as such are given some regulatory protection.
Sorry for the ramble, but I thought you might like to know.

Gazelle said...

Thanks, Daniel, for the info on the critical habitat protection. I wish they'd done that in Mexico and down in Orange County and San Diego County long ago...

Last I saw the "swarms" was about 6 years ago in Sycamore Canyon in the Malibu area. Thankfully, those groves are in state park and Nat'l Rec Area lands.