Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pollinators, but No Pollen:  Spring Heat Left Europe's Plants, Insects Out of Sync

In Austria, butterflies hatched early with the heat, but their flowers hadn’t opened yet.  Bees are under pressure, too.  'You can see the climate change.'

The European Commission formally recognized the threats to bees and other pollinators in a proposal adopted June 1. Its website lists climate change as one driver of pollinators' decline. (Credit: Bob Berwyn) Click to Enlarge.
In a patch of scruffy prairie near Vienna, marbled white butterflies hover near clusters of unopened globe thistles.  They uncurl their long proboscises to probe the spiky buds—without success.  It'll be a couple more weeks before the flowers open, but some of the butterflies may not survive that long if they don't find something else to eat.

Two months of unusually high spring temperatures in Europe have thrown the ecosystem in this urban wilderness meadow out of whack, says butterfly expert Marion Jaros.  The warm temperatures accelerated the hatch of many butterflies and other pollinating species, but the flowers they depend on for nectar are not responding in sync.

"Here, too, you can see climate change," Jaros says, as a hot, dry wind rustles the tall grass, dried to golden straw a month sooner than usual. Important pollinator species are being affected across Europe, she adds.

Read more at Pollinators, but No Pollen:  Spring Heat Left Europe's Plants, Insects Out of Sync

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