June 19, 2008

I had to laugh when I read my rather lame Alaska posting. From the way I repeated myself and my description of the all-night sunshine, readers may have guessed that I was extremely short of sleep! Anyway, that’s my excuse. I even managed to omit the name of that “lepidopterist extraordinaire,” who was in fact Dr. Kenelm W. Philip, Senior Research Associate with the Institute of Arctic Biology. I have known Ken for many years, and have watched him build the Alaska Lepidoptera Survey from an ambitious and daunting concept into a fine reality. Thanks to his efforts, studies, and ability to involve everyone from bush pilots to pipeline workers, we now have a pretty good idea of the remarkable Alaskan butterfly fauna of some 83 species, and many of its moths are also known. We are all awaiting Ken’s book on Alaska’s butterflies with keen anticipation. My own trip would not have enjoyed nearly the success it did without his assistance and the kind hospitality that he and Betty Ann provided, for which I am most grateful. I say this even though Ken did see Eversmann’s parnassian the day after I left! –RMP

Freija fritillary between the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska. Photo by Kenelm Philip.

Bob enjoys a brief preview of Paradise. Photo by Kenelm Philip.

Katrina Andrews and silvery blue at Galbraith Lake, Alaska’s North Slope. Photo by Keith Andrews.


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Value of endangered bumblebees weighed in VT

By Joel Banner Baird, Free Press Staff Writer

here are precious few — if any — rusty-patch bumblebees left in Vermont to benefit from its weeks-old protection as an endangered species.

Ditto for the Ashton cuckoo bumblebee, which hasn’t been seen in these parts in more than a decade.

The yellow-banded bumblebee, also a once-common native species, has been freshly listed as threatened — a less dire designation.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources quietly added the three bees to its roster in late March, without so much as a press release.

A muted celebration is in order, said ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz on Wednesday.

“The listing is part of a bigger conversation,” Markowitz said. “The broader issue is: What is happening to our pollinators?”

The question is much more than rhetorical.

Read more at BurlingtonFreePress.com

U.S. to halt expanded use of some insecticides amid honey bee decline


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday it was unlikely to approve new or expanded uses of certain pesticides while it evaluates the risks they may pose to honey bees.

The so-called neonicotinoid pesticides are routinely used in agriculture and applied to plants and trees in gardens and parks. But their widespread use has come under scrutiny in recent years after a drop in the number of honey bees and other pollinating insects, which play key roles in food production.

The decline is attributed to factors including pesticide and herbicide use, habitat loss and disease, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The EPA notice came the day after Oregon’s largest city suspended the use of the pesticides on its property to protect honey bees.

The unanimous vote on Wednesday by the Portland City Commission came despite protests from farmers, nursery owners and others who claimed the insecticide was crucial in combating pests that destroy crops and other plants. Portland is among at least eight municipalities that have banned the chemicals.

Read more at Reuters.com.

Portland bans insecticide to protect declining honey bees

By Laura Zuckerman, Reuters

Oregon’s biggest city on Wednesday banned the use of an insecticide on city lands blamed by conservationists as a factor in the decline of honey bees in recent years.

Despite protests from farmers who argued the insecticide was crucial for crop production, the Portland City Commission voted unanimously to immediately suspend use of products that contain neonicotinoids.

Such pesticides are widely used on crops and on plants as well as trees in gardens, parks and commercial nurseries.

Portland brings to at least eight the number of U.S. municipalities, including Seattle and Spokane in neighboring Washington state, that have banned the chemicals amid what conservationists say is mounting evidence the insecticide is a culprit in the decline of bees and other pollinating insects.

Read more at Reuters.com.

Portland bans ‘neonicotinoid’ pesticide

By Jennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune

The Portland City Council on voted Wednesday to ban the use of neonicioinoid pesticides, which the city currently uses at the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park and at Peninsula Park.

Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz introduced the ordinance last Wednesday, with support by advocates including the Xerces Society, Audubon Society of Portland, Center for Biological Diversity and Beyond Toxics.

Neonicotinoids are one of the most widley used pesticides in the world, but have recently been found to be a major threat to pollinator health.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture documented seven bumble bee death incidents related to the application of neonicotinoids on trees since June 2013, six of which happened in the Portland metro area.

Read more at PortlandTribune.com.

Portland bans use of insecticides believed to be harmful to bees on city property

By Andrew Theen, The Oregonian

Portland banned the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, a wide-ranging classification of chemical pest killers, on city-owned property.

The City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance Wednesday, making the insecticide ban effective immediately.

“We’re doing another good thing for the people of Portland, Oregon, the United States, maybe the entire world,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who introduced the policy.

Few question the efficacy of the insecticides, which have a long shelf life and quickly kill pests. But the chemical sprays persist in the environment, and opponents say they provide a clear and documented harm to bees, birds and butterflies.

Read more at OregonLive.com.