Supporting butterflies

Let us count the ways

You may have heard about the recent swarm of painted lady butterflies in Solano County as they migrated from Southern Californian to Oregon and beyond.

Although painted ladies have had a good year so far due to super blooms in the deserts, butterfly numbers have been trending down for decades and dipped to a historic low last year. Monarch butterflies are at less than one percent of their historic population, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and UC Davis ecologist Art Shapiro, who has been collecting data on butterflies in Central California since 1972, reported that 2018 “was a terrible - perhaps even catastrophic - butterfly year at all elevations.”

Here are several things that you can do to help:

The painted lady is the most common butterfly species in the world.

•  Continue your support of Solano Land Trust. Plummeting butterfly numbers are connected to loss of habitat and habitat connectivity. Open space provides breeding and migratory habitat for butterflies.

•  Make your garden butterfly friendly. Here's a local how-to article about welcoming butterflies to your garden.

•  Be a Butterfly Hero. The National Wildlife Federation gives information on how to help Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

•  Plant milkweed for monarchs. Here's an article on how to plant a Monarch butterfly-friendly garden.

•  Limit pesticide use, a cause recognized as being equally responsible to their decline as habitat loss.

Which is the flower and which the silver-washed fritillary?

Natural areas provide habitat for butterflies in all their phases.

Photos courtesy of Karlyn H. Lewis, Doug Wirtz, and Tim Malte.