15 September 2005

Peck's Skipper: a suburban butterfly with a message

I photographed this Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius; also known as Yellowpatch Skipper, Polites coras) a couple of days ago in Riverdale Park, Maryland. On a lone thistle a few meters away from the railroad tracks, it was getting its nectar seemingly oblivious to me and the constant stream of cars and the occasional freight trains―one had passed by moments earlier.

There are many native species like this butterfly that seem to be doing equally well both in pristine (if any place still fits that description) and highly modified habitats. Some more familiar examples are the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and the American robin (Turdus migratorius).

This shouldn't, however, lead us into comfortably believing that we have reached some sort of alliance with nature. Some of us may have partially accomplished this with a limited number of species of butterflies, birds and small mammals, but that's about it. Many more species require, and should have, much less disturbed habitats as far away from humans as possible. Nobody would want grizzly bears in city parks and termites in their backyards.

Previous posts with conservation themes:
Deadwood is good
Urban nature, or the lack thereof

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