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Raise your glass to the butterflies: Vineyards are great for conservation, study finds

An unexpected turnout from wine drinking is that some precious butterfly populations get a better chance of surviving – and increasing in number.

What has been shown to connect the dots between the two is the chain of natural pesticide control used by wine grape vineyards, and how it’s able to feed approximately 50 different types of butterflies, also making the vineyards perfectly acceptable habitats for the beautiful fellows.

The choice to plant desert buckwheat shrubs turned out to be a way to harvest a multitude of benefits. Vineyard managers in eastern Washington, USA, that use natural pest control have learned that the native sage-steppe shrubbery, is excellent as an enticement for parasitic wasps, that feed on mealybugs that otherwise would destroy the crops.

The presence of this unexpected guest is not a life or death matter to the crops themselves, however having butterflies around is a bonus that both increases pollination, looks lovely and healthy to anyone passing by, and also helps creating overall happy ecosystems.

Taking advice from experts in combining wildlife with biological pest control at Washington State University, every part of the country needs a separate look at what type of specialized species are native for that area – that way, introducing more local, native plants will help feed the insect life, and from there moving upwards in the food chain towards birds and smaller mammals. Working with Integrated Pest Management to address the emerging problems with excessive use of and reliance on synthetic pesticides, is quickly becoming the natural choice, both from an economical as well as an environmental point of view.

We do certainly need more ways and places to give different butterfly species a better chance of surviving and thriving. If you choose to go at it from the angle of drinking another glass of wine, make sure that it’s from a bottle produced by a butterfly friendly farm filled with desert buckwheat between the vines!

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