Butterflies are largely known for their extraordinary beauty and unique transformations. However, did you know that they are also a very important part of our environment? You could argue that butterflies are just as important to our environment as bumble bees.
Unfortunately, a lot of butterflies are under threat of extinction. So, what would happen to the environment if they did suddenly disappear and why are they so important?
Helping with plant pollination
Butterflies have many positive effects on the environment, and one of the biggest is plant pollination. Just like bees, butterflies play a pivotal role in pollinating plants and flowers. They are especially drawn to yellow and red flowers which have a high nectar amount.
They aren’t quite as crucial to plant pollination as bees, but they are important in terms of pollinating wildflowers and milkweed. As they feed on the nectar, the pollen sticks to their bodies and then transfers onto new flowers.
An important part of food chain
Although it isn’t pleasant to think about butterflies getting eaten, they do provide a crucial food source for other animals too. Small mammals, birds, lizards and spiders are just some of the creatures which rely upon butterflies as part of their food chain. So, if they were to decline, other species would start to decline too.
It is the larvae and the caterpillar stage which provides the most nutrition to other animals. Butterflies themselves only live for around a month after their transformation.
Helping to keep plants in check
Another benefit butterflies have is they really help to keep plants in check. During their caterpillar phase, they eat a lot of leaves to gain energy. Some types of caterpillars also eat seed pods and flowers, which means they can help to keep some plant species from growing out of control.
As well as helping to control plants, one type of butterfly, the harvester, eats aphids. These are known to destroy plants, so keeping them in check will help to protect plant life too.
They symbolise a health ecosystem
Did you know that scientists use butterflies to determine how healthy the ecosystem is? This is because areas which are deemed to have a lot of butterflies, also tend to contain a lot of other invertebrates too. This means there is a high level of pest control and pollination occurring in these areas.
They’re great for your health
Finally, butterflies are really great for the health too. Many butterfly enthusiasts spend hours walking to try and spot their favourite butterflies. It’s a great hobby to take up and all you really need is a good magnifying glass which you can pick up from a company such as RS Components.
Overall, butterflies have a significant impact on the environment. Without them, a lot of other species would begin to decline, and certain plant species would grow out of control. Of course, butterflies are also beautiful to look at so a world without them would be a much less brighter place.