Posted by: Dan | March 26, 2007

Butterfly Migration and Highway Management

Via Living the Scientific Life: Highway closed for butterfly migration.

The purple milkweed butterfly winters on the south end of Taiwan and flies over 600 meters of open roadways to reach its breeding ground in the north. Unfortunately, many of the 11,500 butterflies that attempt the journey each hour do not reach their breeding grounds because turbulence generated by fast-moving cars drags them into traffic or under the wheels of oncoming vehicles. As a result, Taiwan will close one lane of a major highway to protect more than a million of these butterflies, which cross the road on their seasonal migration.

Ecologists are using the lane closure, protective nets and ultra-violet lighting in the hopes that these efforts will increase the milkweed butterfly’s chances of reaching their destination. The protective nets are designed to force the butterflies to fly higher, reducing the chances of them getting caught in the traffic. Ultra-violet lighting will be used below an elevated section of road to encourage the butterflies to fly underneath.

“Human beings need to coexist with the other species, even if they are tiny butterflies,” Lee Thay-ming, of the National Freeway Bureau, told the AFP news agency.

These measures cost the equivalent of about $30,000. Chump change. Yet, as Grrlscientist asks, “Would Americans ever dream of doing such a thing?”



  1. Yeah… too bad Americans don’t spend much money on environmental issues… :rolleyes:

    The President’s FY 2008 Parks Budget

    The President’s FY 2008 Parks Budget, Totaling Nearly $2.4 Billion, Is The Largest Ever For Park Operations And Includes The Highest Increase Ever In Parks Operations Funding. This will allow for improvement and expansion of operations throughout the National Park System.

    * The President’s budget increases park operations funding by more than $250 million over 2006. Since taking office, the President has increased park operational spending by more than 40 percent ($584 million).
    * This includes $100 million for the President’s Centennial Commitment and more than $150 million to support daily park operations with all 390 National Parks receiving increased funding.

    This Record Funding Increase, Together With The President’s Centennial Challenge And Centennial Match, Would Lead To An Additional $450 Million Over 2006 Levels In Operating Funds And Signature Projects And Programs For 2008.

    And that is just parks… geesh…

  2. Apples and oranges…

    I say that we wouldn’t conceive of implementing a project like this (not that we don’t spend money), and you say but we spend money. Your suggestion implies that throwing money at environmental problems, all by itself, solves those problems. It doesn’t – we need smarter conservation of the environment. And, in this particular instance, this $30,000 appears to have been spent to accomplish some specific objective, and for only a drop in the bucket.

    But thanks for missing my point entirely.

  3. Ha, ha – love it. There seems to be so much more that can be done if you put little pockets of money into the hands of those who care enough though.

    Me, I volunteer to look after a small ridge of land to help the flora and fauna survive. I applauded when I first heard about that little project. I wish there were more reported.


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