The Fragile Populations

1280px-Studies_of_Flowers_and_Butterflies,_watercolor_painting_on_parchment_by_Joris_Hoefnagel,_Flanders,_1590,_HAA

Sharp Decline of the Monarch Butterfly

A new census found this winter’s population of North American monarch butterflies in Mexico was at the lowest level ever measured. University of Kansas insect ecologist Orley R. Taylor talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the planting of genetically modified crops and the resulting use of herbicides has contributed to the monarchs’ decline.

Taylor talked about the factors that have led to the sharp drop in the monarch population. Among them is the increased planting of genetically modified corn in the U.S. Midwest, which has led to greater use of herbicides, which in turn kills the milkweed that is a prime food source for the butterflies.

“What we’re seeing here in the United States,” he said, “is a very precipitous decline of monarchs that’s coincident with the adoption of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans.
The glyphosate used in agriculture has tripled since 1997, when they first introduced these Roundup-ready crops. The developers of these crops not only provided the seeds that were glyphosate-resistant, but they also provided the glyphosate — the Roundup. And, boy, that was a pretty good system. You could make money on both, right?

It’s a collateral damage issue. And one of the things that we’re worried about now is that it looks like there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage from the use of various herbicides and pesticides coming down.’

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_the_causes_of_sharp__decline_of_the_monarch_butterfly/2634/


In fact, insects such as butterflies, moths, bumblebees and mayflies have been disappearing for a long time, although hardly anyone except specialists has noticed or cared . . . http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/michael-mccarthy-this-isnt-just-about-bees-ndash-it-affects-everything-2189269.html

https://secretgardening.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/bees-facing-a-poisoned-spring/

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Animalia Aqvatilia et Cochiliata

Joris Hoefnagel (1542 – 1600)

The Snayl

Wise emblem of our politick world,
Sage Snayl, within thine own self curl’d,
Instruct me softly to make hast,
Whilst these my feet go slowly fast.

Compendious Snayl! thou seem’st to me
Large Euclid’s strict epitome;
And in each diagram dost fling
Thee from the point unto the ring.
A figure now trianglare,
An oval now, and now a square,
And then a serpentine, dost crawl,
Now a straight line, now crook’d, now all.

Preventing rival of the day,
Th’ art up and openest thy ray;
And ere the morn cradles the moon,
Th’ art broke into a beauteous noon.
Then, when the Sun sups in the deep,
Thy silver horns e’re Cinthia’s peep;
And thou, from thine own liquid bed,
New Phoebus, heav’st thy pleasant head.

Who shall a name for thee create,
Deep riddle of mysterious state?
Bold Nature, that gives common birth
To all products of seas and earth,
Of thee, as earth-quakes, is afraid,
Nor will thy dire deliv’ry aid.

Thou, thine own daughter, then, and sire,
That son and mother art intire,
That big still with thy self dost go,
And liv’st an aged embrio;
That like the cubbs of India,
Thou from thy self a while dost play;
But frighted with a dog or gun,
In thine own belly thou dost run,
And as thy house was thine own womb,
So thine own womb concludes thy tomb.

But now I must (analys’d king)
Thy oeconomick virtues sing;
Thou great stay’d husband still within,
Thou thee that’s thine dost discipline;
And when thou art to progress bent,
Thou mov’st thy self and tenement,
As warlike Scythians travayl’d, you
Remove your men and city too;
Then, after a sad dearth and rain,
Thou scatterest thy silver train;
And when the trees grow nak’d and old,
Thou cloathest them with cloth of gold,
Which from thy bowels thou dost spin,
And draw from the rich mines within.

Now hast thou chang’d thee, saint, and made
Thy self a fane that’s cupula’d;
And in thy wreathed cloister thou
Walkest thine own gray fryer too;
Strickt and lock’d up, th’art hood all ore,
And ne’r eliminat’st thy dore.
On sallads thou dost feed severe,
And ‘stead of beads thou drop’st a tear,
And when to rest each calls the bell,
Thou sleep’st within thy marble cell,
Where, in dark contemplation plac’d,
The sweets of Nature thou dost tast,
Who now with time thy days resolve,
And in a jelly thee dissolve,
Like a shot star, which doth repair
Upward, and rarifie the air.

Richard Lovelace (1618–1657)

Bees Are The Batteries of Orchards

caterpillar-pear

Illumination from Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta
Joris Hoefnagel (1542 – 1600)

 

Virgil’s Bees

Bless air’s gift of sweetness, honey
from the bees, inspired by clover,
marigold, eucalyptus, thyme,
the hundred perfumes of the wind.
Bless the beekeeper

who chooses for her hives
a site near water, violet beds, no yew,
no echo. Let the light lilt, leak, green
or gold, pigment for queens,
and joy be inexplicable but there
in harmony of willowherb and stream,
of summer heat and breeze,
each bee’s body
at its brilliant flower, lover-stunned,
strumming on fragrance, smitten.

For this,
let gardens grow, where beelines end,
sighing in roses, saffron blooms, buddleia;
where bees pray on their knees, sing, praise
in pear trees, plum trees; bees
are the batteries of orchards, gardens, guard them.


Carol Ann Duffy