You might have heard that more and more butterfly species are going extinct or are in danger of being extinct. But what does it mean for the environment if butterflies go extinct and why exactly are butterflies important for the environment.
As a whole, butterflies are important for the environment because they pollinate plants and flowers just like bees. They also serve as a food source for birds, insects, and reptiles. If they were to go extinct then flowers and plants would have a hard time multiplying and many animals would have to starve.
A lot of people underestimate the importance of butterflies to our environment and I would even go as far to say that the damage to our environment would be unpredictable but catastrophic if too many butterfly species go instinct.
But let’s take a closer look at why butterflies are so important for us and our environment.
What Butterflies do for the Environment
Let´s start by looking at how butterflies benefit our environment exactly.
Butterflies are beneficial to the environment because they pollinate flowers, trees, and other plants when they are adults. As caterpillars, they often eat plants that would otherwise get out of control and some butterflies even eat aphids or other harmful insects.
So as you can see, butterflies are very important for the environment. They are especially important for the plant life of our environment.
Some Butterfly species eat plants in their caterpillar stage that are only a natural food source for butterflies and these plants would go out of control if the butterfly would not eat them.
Butterflies are also known to do some of the jobs of ants by eating rotten fruit and excrements. This cleans the environment and helps to break down the biomatter so that it composts faster and eventually becomes nourishments for new plants.
Some butterflies also eat small insects that would also grow out of control if the butterflies would not control their population by praying on them.
What Would Happen if Butterflies Went Extinct?
But what would really happen if butterflies went extinct within the next few years?
As a whole, if butterflies went extinct then a lot of other species like birds, reptiles, and even other insects would have a hard time surviving because their food source would diminish drastically. Plants would not get pollinated and we would have to deal with food shortages.
While we can use other insects to pollinate our plants like bees there are still some plants that bees can´t pollinate as well as butterflies. Butterflies use their very long mouthpiece to reach the nectar in some flowers that bees don´t have.
That’s why bees just simply won´t pollinate enough of these types of flowers.
China eradicated a huge portion of its insect population a few decades ago and they are still dealing with the consequences today.
They either have to transport beehives close to their fields in order to pollinate their harvest or they have to pollinate their plants by hand.
So when we look at China we can actually see how severe the consequences could be if a lot of our insect population were to go instinct.
How are Butterflies Helpful to Us Humans?
Now that sounds very bad but how do we humans actually benefit from butterflies?
Butterflies pollinate flowers and other plants including fruit-bearing plants. Without enough pollinating insects like the butterfly, we would have a hard time getting enough fruit and vegetables to eat. And other insects would start to multiply uncontrollably further endangering our harvest.
So if we like it or not, we are very dependent on pollinating insects such as butterflies and bees.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂