Improving Rural Butterfly Habitat
Driving along any any rural road or strolling the backwoods on a sunny spring or summer afternoon brings the sights and sound of nature to life.
Often, butterflies are one of the more colorful sights to be seen.
Now, new research suggests that improving on butterfly populations in rural areas may be as easy as doing nothing at all.
Richard Yahner, a professor of wildlife conservation at the Pennsylvania State University recently completed a study on rural butterfly populations and said, "I found that butterflies can thrive along the edges of forest logging roads, within power line rights-of-way and along the edges of farmlands and other agricultural lands". Yahner further suggested that, "By taking a few simple steps, farmers and forest managers can help these communities maintain themselves."
Those steps include things such as farmers leaving 15-20 foot strips of land around the edges of their fields free from planting and animal grazing. Doing nothing, literally leaving the strips to go wild, fosters growth of native plants conducive to butterfly breeding and feeding.
Rural and forest road managers can also follow the do nothing route by refraining from mowing the strips of land that border the roads until September. Yahner notes that, "Various butterfly species will use edge habitats for a short time. If road edges are mowed in June, this will not only destroy habitat for butterflies that may use it then, but also for other species that may use the same area later in the summer."
In the end, these do nothing conservation practices will actually increase biodiversity in the area. For example, butterflies and wildflowers, the perfect nature picture, go hand in hand. Butterflies both pollinate and feed upon them. Increased butterfly populations encourage the continual propagation of wildflowers. Additionally, butterfly larvae, the caterpillars, are important food sources for many birds.
So, if you are a rural farm or woodlot owner, take a load off of your feet. Do nothing except watch the butterfly population grow.
© 2002-2011. Patricia A. Michaels. All rights reserved.