Butterfly populations are declining worldwide in unprecedented numbers, with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service reporting some subspecies extinct and many others endangered. In Europe, the number of butterflies has halved in the last generation alone.
Such decline has not only an aesthetic impact, but is also a warning sign of ecological damage that could affect countless other species — including humans. Indeed, the fluttery critters are an important partner in global food security; 80% of crops are pollinated by insects such as butterflies, bees, beetles and wasps.
But while society has contributed to worsening the ecosystem for butterflies, it can also help improve it. Finnish company Belightful Design has developed a new backyard feeder that it believes will help protect these winged creatures. Their invention is filled with nectar that the butterflies can smell from far away, and incorporates bright hues to further attract the insects.
“[The feeders] can support butterflies especially at the beginning and at the end of the season when flowers are not blooming yet, said Belightful Design Cofounder Miia Liesegang in an interview with Lady Freethinker. “Feeders give an additional source of food for butterflies.“
Other butterfly feeders are on the market as well, and come in a variety of shapes and materials. Brands include Echo Valley and Songbird Essentials.
Simply having butterfly feeders could help people understand their impact on the environment, become more aware of their actions, and eventually make eco-friendly choices in their daily lives, Liesegang hopes.
“We want to believe that this kind of positive experience with nature could potentially also start molding the mindset towards more conscious consumption habits overall,” she said.
Liesegang says we can also help butterflies by choosing the right plants to grow in and around our homes.
“People with gardens can plant more butterfly-friendly plants to enable the reproduction, and avoid additional chemicals in gardening,” she explains.
Of course, it will take more than feeders alone to save the butterflies, who are seriously threatened by the widespread use of chemical pesticides by Big Agriculture as well as by home gardeners. Destruction of the natural landscape by humans also plays a major factor; the more steps we take to preserve the planet as a whole, the better the butterflies will fare.