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Letter to the Editor: Butterfly Effect


Dear Editor,

The populations of songbirds, bats, reptiles, amphibians are known to be shrinking by the day. But why is that?

What is missing for all of these species are an adequate amount of invertebrates in their diets. Oh come now, you say, last summer was buggier then ever and I welcomed the Terminex truck and the generic pesticides sprayed 'to kill 'em all' with open arms after I saw a spider in the house. Given our current attitudes, Charlotte's Web would not be a viable story today and a publisher would laugh EB White out of his office for even having the idea of a spider as a character in a children's story of all things.  

Our native plants are going extinct in the wild and all over suburbia. We are seeing fewer fireflies in the summer, fewer pollinating insects and fewer Monarchs and other Lepidopteran for several reasons. Deforestation and development, widespread herbicide spraying, Invasive plants, non-native plants, ornamentals and cultivars and the purposeful sterilization of plants sold by the nursery trade in order to deter and limit invertebrate populations is a full scale assault on all of the songbirds, bats, reptiles, and amphibians that are primarily insectivores.

Many of us know that the Asclepias genus (milkweed) has to exist in order for the Monarch to exist, but probably many of us do not know that every single native tree, shrub, perennial and vine are larval hosts to many different species of invertebrate. For example, if you go to www.wildflower.org and look up various native plants, you can discover that the Loblolly Pine (AR Pine) is the host plant for the Elfin butterfly, Iron Weed is the larval host plant for the American Painted Lady and the Trumpet Vine is the larval host plant of the Trumpet Vine Sphinx Moth. 

Cutting down a tree, spraying herbicides, hacking a shrub, clearing out a patch of native perennials, vines or grasses is in fact killing off a source of food for our songbirds, bats, reptiles and amphibians.

Native plants are important food for our native wildlife in other ways as well. I have observed with my own eyes while up North this winter, robins returning to an American Holly tree, having been cut down by my neighbor, having to starve (though I tried feeding them raisins) because the berries of the American Holly are a key food source for them when the ground is too frozen for insects, worms and such. My neighbor replaced this American Holly with an ornamental tree with cultivarized berries that are too big for a robin to eat and thus these scientifically engineered trees are merely eye candy for humans to look at, just like the hybridized sterile hydrangeas that also do not produce pollen for the pollinators as they were bred to appear as though they have colorful blooms all summer. This is at the expense of having absolutely no benefit to hummingbirds, bees, and all pollinators. They are sterile.

Everything we cut down, every gallon of toxic herbicides sprayed, everything we plant, everything we do affects the planet including the mysteriously missing songbirds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. 97% of insects are beneficial and are the primary food source for most creatures on earth. Even hummingbirds eat insects and that is the way that they can have enough protein to produce the muscle and bone necessary for their offspring. 

Let the hummingbirds hum, the songbirds sing and let's cut the cord on the chain saw and other destructive practices of any more of our native wetlands, prairies, dunes, and coastal areas.

Susan Pang
Holmes Beach


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