There may be more incentive to create wine and it turns out that wine grape vineyards are the cause of an increase in the population of butterflies in Washington.
The loss in natural habitat has resulted in around decline of 50 species of butterflies in eastern Washington over the years. But now, there is a way to slow down this decline. Vineyards that are experimenting with sustainable pest management systems may be giving the habitat that these butterflies need.
For helping in controlling pests sans the use of many pesticides, gardeners actually plant native sage-steppe shrubbery in and around their vineyards. Native plants such as desert buckwheat shrubs attract good insects such as parasitic warps. These insects prey on mealybugs and other pests which would be harmful to the vineyards.
However, there’s apparently an added side effect to encouraging “good” insects. It turns out that this method also encourages butterfly conservation.
“Conservation of butterflies is becoming an issue because all species are declining,” said David James, one authors of the new paper, in a news release. “The habitat has been taken away by agriculture. This is a way of giving back. We’re showing that an agricultural industry can live alongside the natural ecology and help preserve and conserve it.”
Since butterflies do not eat pests or have any direct economic benefit, the increase in butterflies is not necessarily beneficial to the vineyards but, the butterflies naturally live on the native plants and can also act as aesthetic appeal for tourists.
“To have butterflies flying around could be part of a tourism drive and an attraction for visitors,” said James. “In these days of organic production and not wanting pesticides on food, butterflies can be a symbol of that. To show butterflies flying around vineyards has great aesthetic and commercial appeal.”
The findings are published in the Journal of Insect Conservation.