You know there’s work to do when a well-known tech magazine like WIRED publishes a feature titled Beyond honeybees: Now wild bees and butterflies may be in trouble.
What’s worse: The article was published in 2014.
“It’s not just honeybees that are in trouble. Many wild pollinators — thousands of species of bees and butterflies and moths — are also threatened. Their decline would affect not only our food supply, but our landscapes, too,” WIRED‘s Brandon Keim wrote.
It became clear to scientists in 2014 that honeybees are in trouble, and that wild bees and butterflies are also in jeopardy. According to entomologist Art Shapiro of the University of California — who spent more than four decades counting butterflies across central California — wild pollinator decline is widespread, and goes beyond butterflies that require specific habitats or food sources. The most troubling trend is that the so-called “generalist” species are also doing poorly.
Ecologist Laura Burkle of Montana State University told WIRED, “Almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering species require insects or other animals for pollination. That’s a lot of plants that need these adorable creatures for reproduction. And if we don’t have those plants, we have a pretty impoverished world.”
According to WIRED, this is how impoverished our world would become if we do not take action: “Wild pollinators in the U.S. still provide an estimated $14.6 billion worth of pollination services every year. The oft-cited figure that one in every three bites of food was pollinated includes not just honeybees, but all pollinators.”
So, what to do?
In Toronto, Markham, Montreal, Victoria and Richmond, citizens are coming together through The Butterflyway Project’s Butterflyway Rangers program.
In Richmond, 40 rangers looked under the microscope to refresh their memories about butterflies and bees. They gathered at the Richmond Sharing Farm to learn about sustainable food sources, make bee houses and, most importantly, strategize and share ideas. All this for one purpose: to help build and rebuild pollinator habitat — action needed now more than ever.
These Rangers know butterflies and bees are not only the stuff of children’s books and fairy tales. Wild pollinators are crucial to our well-being. Richmond Rangers and their counterparts in the other four Canadian cities are determined to play a role in pollinator survival.
Together, Richmond Butterflyway Rangers will plant butterfly gardens and create pollinator corridors in their neighbourhoods, including Thompson, Steveston, City Centre, Broadmoor, Shellmont, Cambie East and East Richmond. And that’s just the beginning.
According to Dr. Shapiro, “If you get five households on a city block, you’ve got a corridor. I would like to see communities get together to have butterfly garden corridors running through them.”
Butterflyway Rangers will create and stitch together pollinator patches and invite neighbours, friends and colleagues to join. Once a neighbourhood has at least a dozen new butterfly-friendly patches, the David Suzuki Foundation will formally recognize it as an official Butterflyway, including signage and a spot on a national map.
If you missed the opportunity to sign up as a Butterflyway Ranger, don’t panic. You can still help! Plant pollinator-friendly and native plants on your patio or in your garden and learn more about The Butterflyway Project.