Butterflies and Other Lepidoptera, Decline in Population of

Butterflies and moths, like bees, birds, and bats, are important pollinators. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from male to female flowers of the same plant species, a process necessary for plant fertilization and thus seed and fruit production. Pollination is a mutually beneficial process: In exchange for visiting the flower, the pollinator receives food (nectar or pollen) from the flower and/or a deposition site for larvae.

Approximately three quarters of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators. These include many plants widely consumed by humans—such as apples, potatoes, peaches, melons, pumpkins, almonds, vanilla, and coffee—as well as plants used as animal feed—such as alfalfa, clover, and various grasses used as hay.

Worldwide, approximately 150,000 species of Lepidoptera—the taxonomic order of butterflies and moths—have been described (National ...

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