Residents of Israel and Lebanon have been treated to the flutter of millions of butterflies that have appeared this spring in numbers not seen in more than 100 years.
The massive migration of Vanessa cardui butterflies from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait came after a winter that saw unusually heavy rainfall. Experts say this gave the species’ caterpillars a bumper crop of plants to thrive on.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority says the butterflies have reached Cypress on their way to Spain and other parts of Europe for the summer.
Bleak Future for Corals
Unprecedented coral bleaching events at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef during 2016 and 2017 have left the World Heritage Site without enough juvenile coral to rebuild, scientists warn.
A report in the journal Nature says the number of “coral babies” trying to repopulate the reef has fallen by 89 percent.
While there are ongoing small-scale efforts to transplant juvenile coral to the reef, researchers say that the efforts are likely to be futile due to the high probability of more severe coral bleaching events brought on by a warming world.
In the Amazon, when turtles weep, butterflies drink. This image shot in the Peruvian Amazon shows an astonishing sight: colorful butterflies drinking tears directly from the eyes of turtles basking by the river.
Butterflies are ‘failing to cope’ with climate change – UK
Butterflies are “failing to cope” with climate change and the pollution of the British countryside, experts have warned after a disastrous year saw population declines in 40 out of 57 species.
The UK Butterfly Monitoring Survey found it had been the fourth-worst year overall with six species – the heath fritillary, grizzled skipper, wall, grayling, white-letter hairstreak and white admiral – all suffering their most dramatic declines in the 41 years since records began.
Sixteen species saw increases with one remaining about the same, the annual survey found.
The survey has run since 1976 and involves thousands of volunteers collecting data through the summer. Last year a record 2,507 sites were monitored across the UK.
Butterflies in danger of global warming
Research by a University of B.C. student on 48,000 individual butterflies through more than a century of records found global warming causes them to emerge from hibernation earlier.
Heather Kharouba said Wednesday butterflies that wake from hibernation too quickly could run into sudden cold snaps or — if their feeding plants aren’t in bloom — die from lack of food. Her research examined samples of butterflies from 1880 to now, comparing the creatures with weather station data over the course of 130 years.
She found that every time the mercury rises one degree Celsius, butterflies take flight 2.4 days earlier — an accelerating trend in recent years.
“They could hit an early frost and just get killed,” Kharouba said. “Or their host plants might not come out yet and they might not have food and they might starve.”
Her research was published Tuesday in the Journal of Global Change Biology. She said the next steps include determining if the food plants are blooming faster with the temperature rise.
One problem is the lack of butterfly data in Canada, she said, adding websites such as bcbutterflyatlas.ca are attempting to engage the community by getting the public to snap photos of butterflies and record where they’re found.
Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears
The western Amazon is lower in sodium than many places on Earth, because it is more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean, a prime source of salt, and is cut off from windblown mineral particles to the west by the Andes Mountains.
Dust and minerals make their way into the Amazon from the east, sometimes all the way from north Africa. But much of this material is removed from the air by rain before it reaches the western Amazon.
Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies from areas near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Scientists found 34 per cent of 3rd generation butterflies had abnormalities, including smaller wings and damaged eyes.
The findings will raise fears over the long-term effects of the leaks on other species and people who were exposed in the days and weeks after the accident, as radiation spread over a large area and forced thousands to evacuate.