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Jun 26, 2021 5:43 AM CST
Name: Dove Keenan
Atlanta Georgia
We live in an Atlanta GA suburb. Several years ago we began creating and planting large areas for pollinators. Each year we were visited by many different and increasing species of bees, wasps, moths, humming birds and butterflies. Last year we noticed a decline in numbers and this year we have seen exactly 3 butterflies - tiger swallowtails.

We do not use pesticides and only natural fertilizers through composting. Our nearest neighbor does not "treat" her property, but others in the neighborhood do; particularly grass treatment services. Properties here are each over an acre to give you perspective on spacing/distance. We lost a number of plants to foraging deer and were advised to use a product the company swore was not harmful so not sure if this is the source of trouble.

Will greatly appreciate your counsel and feedback.
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Last edited by lindadove Jun 26, 2021 6:42 PM Icon for preview
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Jun 26, 2021 6:01 AM CST
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 38 years
Aroids Region: Florida Tropicals
I live in Florida and have noticed that every time we get hit by a hurricane or a tropical storm, even if its not a direct blow, the butterfly population decreases. In 2004, we were hit here by 2 back to back storms only about a week apart, Frances and Jean. For maybe the next 3-4 years, the butterfly population was decimated, dislocated, generally destroyed by the damage to foliage. And other parts of the state were hit by 2 DIFFERENT storms, we had 4 that year, and their local populations were decimated as well. It took literally years for them to come back. I suspect that climate change may also be playing a role in the butterfly population decrease
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Jun 26, 2021 6:16 AM CST

You mentioned you live in suburban Atlanta: I bet construction projects in your area affected the wildlife.
Another reason to curse real estate speculators and their chums.
The Saviour.
Avatar for lindadove
Jun 26, 2021 6:16 AM CST
Name: Dove Keenan
Atlanta Georgia
Thank you Gina. We've not had any storms like that to date; could be a result of climate change. I'm not sure how many neighbors are in tune with pollinators to notice a decline.
Avatar for lindadove
Jun 26, 2021 6:18 AM CST
Name: Dove Keenan
Atlanta Georgia
Thank you ElPolloDiablo, we are an established area- no construction near us.
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Jun 26, 2021 7:06 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
GROW ORCHIDS!!!
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Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
Here in SE Michigan, I too am seeing less butterflies.
But I tend to agree that severe weather might be a cause. I mean look how bad the winter was in the Texas area last winter.
But I would think that reduced butterfly numbers are due to several factors. Including catastrophic weather events, local building projects, a late spring, an early winter cold snap. A wetter then average spring, a drier then average spring, a hotter and drier summer. I don't think you can blame a single reason.

Perhaps locally you can. For example this highway exchange project destroyed 25 acres of milkweed. I would expect a temporary localized drop in Monarch butterflies. But milkweed is a weed, it will colonize other open areas producing more larval food in upcoming seasons.
But honestly I have not had Tiger Seallowtails, Black Seallowtails or Red Admirals at all really in 2021. I never had a lot from 2018 through 2020, but I had some. Is this climate change, global warming??? Dont know. OR is it simply the "Law of Averages"? Some years levels are up and some years levels are down.

When you look year to year and see a fall, that's kind of a one year deal. But when you look at 10, 20, or 30 years and say that there are less butterflies now compared to then, then we can blame global warming or something of that nature.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Last edited by BigBill Jun 26, 2021 7:08 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for lindadove
Jun 26, 2021 7:17 AM CST
Name: Dove Keenan
Atlanta Georgia
Thank you Big Bill, certainly it all makes sense. We will continue to plant more with more diversity. I was glad to see the JoePye weed tripled amongst other good spreading of plants. We have just about every plant you can think of for our area, but climate change and destruction of habitat can be tough to combat. Why we need to be aware and active locally!
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Jun 26, 2021 8:06 AM CST
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 38 years
Aroids Region: Florida Tropicals
lindadove said:Thank you Gina. We've not had any storms like that to date; could be a result of climate change. I'm not sure how many neighbors are in tune with pollinators to notice a decline.


Even if you have not had a direct local impact like that, it can still affect your local population if the areas within a geographical location have. I live about 8 hours from you. That's not really all that far. I plant a lot of milkweed out here for the Monarchs, and it reseeds itself as well. I also plant other stuff for other types of butterflies hoping to encourage them. When we first moved out to this present house in 2002, Zebra Longwings were literally everywhere. Now, we rarely see them.
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Avatar for imkkira3
Jun 26, 2021 8:19 AM CST
Manitoba
Up here in southern Manitoba we are having the same issues, I have seen a grand total of one butterfly this year, and I might have an idea why. With COVID-19 being an issue, most parks in my city have fired their gardeners. No point gardening when everyone is inside, people are coming out more now, but there are still no flowers. Of course global warming could be an issue, considering the last 20 years have broken the averaged global temperature record every year, year after year. I haven't checked in about 2 years, so maybe 2020 and 2021 wasn't so bad, but at this point a clear pattern has been established.
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Jun 26, 2021 10:26 AM CST
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 38 years
Aroids Region: Florida Tropicals
We have tons of flowers here. Both native and exotic. That could be part of it up there, but Floridians garden tear round, and the commercial properties never let their landscaping go here. Its part of the 'paradise' appeal for tourists here to see a lot of tropical stuff
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Jun 26, 2021 10:44 AM CST
Name: Vera
ON CA (Zone 5b)
Birds Butterflies Cat Lover Frogs and Toads Heirlooms Garden Ideas: Level 1
Climate change, loss of habitat, disruption of reproductive cycle, monoculture, light pollution, eradication of natural food supply, INSECTICIDE use - IOW, human activity.
https://www.nationalgeographic...
Behind every opportunity is a disaster in waiting.
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Jun 26, 2021 11:19 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
GROW ORCHIDS!!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
The pandemic? Don't think so. I mean things are going to bloom tended or not.
There are likely 6 or 8 good reasons why.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Avatar for Rubi
Jun 26, 2021 1:49 PM CST
West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Hummingbirder
I've seen more Monarch caterpillars here in MN in the previous two years than I have since the mid 70's. No problems in my neck of the woods. I have a picture with 5 Monarch caterpillars on one milkweed plant that I took 2 years ago! That phone died though, so I might not be able to find it.
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Jun 26, 2021 2:09 PM CST
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Level 1
Rubi, you must have them all on your side of the state! I have seen only 2 Monarchs and a few yellow swallowtails, I have chalked it up to the extreme heat and lack of moisture we have had. I have 4 different milkweed varieties in my yard, also a pronounced lack of bees so far.
As Yogi Berra said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
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Jun 26, 2021 2:17 PM CST
Name: Peggy
Temple, TX (Zone 8b)
Birds Bluebonnets Butterflies Hummingbirder Irises Lilies
Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Texas Deer
I see mostly black and yellow swallowtails here in Temple (Central TX). Down in Gause an hour away, where our getaway cabin is, I see lots of big black butterflies and beaucoup other species I couldn't name. In the spring, there are so many fuzzy and non-fuzzy caterpillars (literally hundreds and hundreds of them on our yard) I don't know if they are awaiting morphing into butterflies or moths. Orange ones, brown ones, white ones, yellow ones and a few Monarchs from time to time. I tried planting some milkweed but it all burned up in the summer sun and oppresive heat 2 years ago. We have a bunch of hummingbird moths down there, too all over the thistles and coneflowers. They all adore all the blanket flowers we let flourish on the pastures.
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Last edited by Peggy8b Jun 26, 2021 2:55 PM Icon for preview
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Jun 26, 2021 2:21 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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Monarchs are definitely in a decline; specially the Western ones. I could look up the numbers if anyone wants. The reasons? Habitat decline, destruction of the wintering grounds, mono culture farming, climate change, pesticides.
I read a report from an ecological expert that stated we are simply not planting enough milkweed to make up for what has been destroyed.
I'm pretty sure this would apply to other butterflies, too.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Jun 26, 2021 2:34 PM CST
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Level 1
My Butterfly Weed finally started spreading after the mother plant was planted 3 years ago, and still a lot of people still identify Milkweeds as weeds!
As Yogi Berra said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
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Jun 26, 2021 2:46 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
GROW ORCHIDS!!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
No one claimed that these "people are smart", have they??
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Avatar for lindadove
Jun 26, 2021 6:35 PM CST
Name: Dove Keenan
Atlanta Georgia
Thank you all so much for your observations and counsel. It seems the common causes are a confluence of environment encroachment, climate changes and human activity such as artificial fertilizers and then pesticides.

One of my acquaintances just told me today she lost about 90,000 bees because it appears someone had their property sprayed for insects not realizing how far these toxins can travel. They traveled far enough to decimate her hives.

The real challenge here seems to be how to teach/inform/convince people our environment is fragile - it is imperative we make changes to end this type of devastation.
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Jun 27, 2021 12:56 AM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tomato Heads Salvias Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Peppers
Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Morning Glories Master Gardener: Arkansas Lilies Hummingbirder
Dove, you are so right! I'm just hoping all our efforts aren't too little too late.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa

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