‘Butterflies are crucial for pollination, must be protected’

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Tuesday, 28 May 2019

While speaking to Sakal Times, he said, “The pollination cycle has been affected due to various factors. Just like bees, butterflies play a crucial role in the pollination cycle. Due to high use of insecticides and pesticides, the insects, which get attracted towards flowers, have been dwindling.

Pune: “Like bees, butterflies and other insects too need urgent help to save planet Earth. Pollinators, contribute to the growth of fruit, vegetables and many nuts, as well as flowering plants. World over, due to changing climate patterns and many other factors, the pollination process has been affected, disturbing the entire food chain,” said Ankur Patwardhan, head of ‘Annasaheb Kulkarni Biodiversity Department’ at Abasaheb Garware College.

Recently, Patwardhan won the ‘Elsevier Foundation- ISC3 Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge’ second prize worth 25,000 euros. His project was about the role of butterflies in pollination and in retaining the balance of nature.

While speaking to Sakal Times, he said, “The pollination cycle has been affected due to various factors. Just like bees, butterflies play a crucial role in the pollination cycle. Due to high use of insecticides and pesticides, the insects, which get attracted towards flowers, have been dwindling.

Nearly 90 per cent of all flowering plants depend on animal pollination, and that includes about 75 per cent of the world’s food crops. However, due to climate change, the blooming of flowers has been affected and it wilts early,” he said.

He also mentioned that nearly 70 to 75 per cent of insects have been nearing extinction. Many of the species are in threatened category and if we continue with our policies, soon these species will be in endangered zone. 

“Nearly, 50 per cent of various species of butterflies have been nearing extinction,” he said, adding that over 70 to 75 insects species also are in the endangered zone. 

Patwardhan said that the bird, Puerto Rican spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis), is a bird endemic, as it feeds only on insects, and due to dwindling population of insects, the bird’s existence is threatened. Same was the case with few of the species of fish that feed only on aquatic insects. 

“Apparently, plants that depend on pollination make up 35 per cent of global crop production volume with a value of as much as $577 billion a year,” says a report released by United Nations.

Broad and Global Problems to Insect Loss
The main drivers of species decline appear to be in order of importance:
I)     Habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; 
II)     Pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilizers;
iii)     Biological factors (pathogens, invasive species)
iv)     Climate change

‘Ecological Armageddon’

  • Flying insect numbers in Germany’s Natural Reserves have plunged 75 per cent in 25 years 
  • 98 per cent of ground insects, 80 per cent canopy insects vanished.
  • Frogs, birds declined simultaneously by about 50 to 65 per cent.
  • Loss of insects & pollinators – loss of enormous percentages of plants, birds, mammals, freshwater fish
  • Re-establishing pollinator-plant relationship has thus become an urgent need for maintaining ecosystem balance.
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