Wed, Jan 30, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Butterflies, the unlikely victims of Trump’s border wall
川普築牆 邊界生態恐遭池魚之殃

The entrance to the National Butterfly Center on Jan. 15 in Mission, Texas.

Photo: AFP

Mission, Texas, located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, is home to the National Butterfly Center, a private non-profit 40-hectare preserve dedicated to conservation of the insects in their natural habitat.

But the construction of part of a long-promised wall on the border with Mexico — a key plank of US President Donald Trump’s immigration policy — could end up chopping the area in half.

“This land used to be an onion field,” explains Luciano Guerra, who is responsible for education outreach at the center. “We converted it back to native habitat.”

“And when we created the habitat for the butterflies, we also attracted birds because the birds like to eat the butterflies and the caterpillars. Then we attracted things that eat the birds, and so on.” In the end, more than 200 species have been counted here. In spring and autumn, “we can have 80 to 100 species of butterflies here in one day,” Guerra says.

Along the banks of the Rio Grande, which forms a natural border with Mexico, there are also bobcats, coyotes, javelinas or skunk pigs, armadillos and Texas turtles.

Building a wall here would be “devastating,” the center says on its Web site.

According to Marianna Trevino Wright, the center’s executive director, the wall and the glaring spotlights that would come with it will disrupt the nocturnal activities of all plants and animals, transforming what is now a vibrant but endangered ecosystem into a biological desert.”

“People say, ‘Well, the butterflies can fly over it or fly through it or around it.’ “Not necessarily,” explains Guerra. “Some butterflies fly lower to the ground — they could not go over that 5.5-meter concrete wall.”


1. butterfly n.

蝴蝶 (hu2 die2)

2. preserve n.

保護區 (bao3 hu4 qu1)

3. natural habitat phr.

自然棲地 (zi4 ran2 qi1 di4)

4. border n

邊界 (bian1 jie4)

5. immigration policy phr.

移民政策 (yi2 min2 zheng4 ce4)

6. nocturnal activity phr.

夜間活動 (ye4 jian1 huo2 dong4)

Guerra also warned that “when the bulldozers come in to clear the way for the border wall, they’re going to knock down trees, plants, grasses and so on, which are host plants for the butterfly species we have here.”

Those trees also are the home of several species of birds, especially in the spring, and some mammals risk seeing their natural habitat destroyed, he added.













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