||WHY SAVE BUTTERFLIES?
It is obvious to most people that our world would be a much poorer place without butterflies.
However, apart from their beauty and the joy they bring to adults and children alike, there are
important ecological reasons for saving them from extinction.
Butterflies are an integral part of the natural ecology and many other species depend on
them for survival. Butterflies help to pollinate flowering plants and are prey for a wide
variety of predators, such as spiders, birds and lizards. A number of butterfly species have
complex relationships with other insects, such as ants, which protect and feed their larvae,
in return for a sweet honeydew-like substance, which the butterfly larva secretes.
Conservation biology and Science
Butterflies are frequently used as indicators of community or habitat health. 95% of the
species on Earth are invertebrates and it is critical that we maintain their diversity.
Butterfly diversity is a good representative of the invertebrate class of animals.
Butterflies are the subject of detailed scientific investigations, helping us to learn more
about biology and ecology in general. For example, butterfly studies provide us with valuable
evidence about global warming and its effects on our natural surroundings.
A source of technological inspiration
Recently, studies of butterfly wings have yielded astonishing new discoveries. The
brilliant and varied colours are caused by a clever blend of pigmentation and light dispersal.
The entire wing is covered with microscopic scales, which in turn have intricate,
nanoscale structures covering them.
These structures reflect, absorb and separate light in such a way as to create subtle blends
of dazzling colour. Engineers are using these ideas, evolved by nature over millions of years,
to design new types of materials, such as textiles, cosmetics, paints and glazing, with a
powerful control of colours, adding eyecatching shimmer to many modern products. Butterflies
are thus an important source of bio-inspiration and may have yet more secrets to share with us.
Aesthetics and human well-being
A wide variety of human artforms, such as painting, poetry and literature, draw their
inspiration from nature, with butterflies being one of the most eye-catching, charismatic
animals. Even music, literature and theatre have incorporated the iconic beauty of butterflies,
for example, Puccini's famous "Madame Butterfly" and Vladimir Nabokov's novels, such as "Lolita".
The uplifting effects of the beauty of butterflies on the human psyche are well-documented.
It would be the greatest tragedy for future generations if butterflies were to become
merely mythical figures mentioned in historic literature and art.