Where the Butterflies Are Not

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By Deb Quantock McCarey

Contributing reporter/Nature blogger

Here I go again, talking about pollinators, and how this season they are scarce.

But it is worthy of mentioning time and again, because the decline in pollinators will affect us all soon enough.  

As I have mentioned to many folks around here, as an experiment, this year in an effort to pull more butterflies, bees and beneficial bugs out of hiding and into my unconventional backyard native and edible garden, I planted a 4X8 foot meadow in the middle of my urban landscape.

My vegetable and flower beds went through their seasons with visits by lots of bees, even the honey bee variety.

Beneficial ladybugs dropped in, too.

But, only onemonarch has flitted around back there.  It eventually landed on our butterfly bush.  Last year, with monarchs that bush was loaded.

This one hasn't returned.  

Worldwide there has been lots of talk about the decline of pollinators, honey bees and butterflies.

It's just a theory, but I don't think enough of them have done their work here.

My scarlet runner beans are profusely  flowering, but have produced very little fruit.

It's been a bad year for cucumbers, even though the conditions were right.

I'm still waiting for my warm weather peppers to come in.  Now, I'm thinking they won't.

And, some tomatoes are ripening on the vines, but those haven't been a bumper crop either.

It should have been a good growing season, especially with the inclusion of all those pollinator-attracting native blooms.

Where have all the flowers gone.  They're still here.  It's the edibles that are flowering, but not fruiting that is troubling me now.  That is the part of this so-called experiment of mine that produced results I wasn't expecting.

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Cory Kadlec from River Forest  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 9:44 PM

I read about a monarch butterfly survey in Door County, Wisconsin. They went home early after counting zero monarchs. Newly designed pesticides as well as monocultures to fly over might be to blame.

Julie Samuels from Oak Park  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 12:53 PM

Here is one possible reason. Our Village was sprayed with pesticides this summer in an ill-advised attempt to kill mosquitoes that are linked to West Nile Virus. Of course if it's going to kill mosquitoes, it will also kill our pollinators. And it will cover everything including plants, sidewalks, buildings, cars, and people who are in the path of the trucks with a toxic poison.

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