WSW: Searching For The Last Butterflies

Jul 7, 2019

Credit WMUK

Professor Nick Haddad says the rarest butterflies should be saved, because “People just should not be the cause of extinction.” Haddad, who is also senior terrestrial ecologist at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners has written a new book about rare butterflies. 


The book The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature tells the story of Haddad’s quest to find the rarest butterfly in the world. He also warns of rapidly declining populations of some species.

Haddad says the decline in butterfly populations has many causes. He says change in habitat is major factor. However Haddad says natural disturbances such as fire, flooding and even hurricanes can have some benefits for butterflies. He says some efforts to protect habitat are actually harmful to protecting butterfly populations. Haddad says harsh pesticides can get rid of pests, but also can hurt butterflies.

Eight butterflies are profiled in the book, one is extinct, another was thought be out of existence for over 50 years. The others are rare to one degree or another. Haddad says including the Monarch was the toughest decision because people know about the Monarch, and he wanted to write a book about butterflies people don’t know, and are headed toward extinction. Haddad says the Western Monarch has gone from millions to 28,000. Based on updated data, Haddad says he could have spent more of his book writing about the Monarch.