This week on Rootstock Radio host Theresa Marquez talks to Eric Lee-Mäder, co-director of the Pollinator Program at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Eric is the lead author of several books, including the best-selling Attracting Native Pollinators and Farming with Beneficial Insects: Strategies for Ecological Pest Management.
The Xerces Society takes its name as an homage to the first butterfly to go extinct in the United States, the Xerces Blue Butterfly. This name, Eric says, reminds the organization of its mission. “We’ve seen fully the loss of about 40% of the sheer numbers of wildlife on earth over the past 40 or 50 years,” he explains, continuing, “these trends are widespread and we need to do something about it.”
Eric’s area of expertise lies in the perils our pollinators face today. “Habitat loss is one of the major, if not the biggest driver of pollinator decline,” he says, adding that insecticides also contribute substantially. Unfortunately, pollinator decline isn’t the only reason Eric is concerned about insecticides. “Neonicotinoid insecticides are now found in measurable concentrations in about half of all of the surface waters in the United States,” he says. Neonicotinoids are promoted as fairly safe for humans, but Eric points out that because they are a relatively new class of insecticide we don’t know what the risks of long-term exposure might be.
Eric is adamant in that “all of us can be stewards of pollinator habitat,” because even an urban window box can make a difference. “We are all linked-in as much as any other animal on earth,” he reminds listeners, adding “and to ignore the plight of the pollinators? We do so at our own folly.”