The old parade ground between the rear of the Castello Sforzesco and the Arch of Peace has been turned into a park in the centre of Milan. Naturally the park, called Parco Sempione in Italian, has a lake. In and around the lake live various entertaining critters.
Carp, joined by darter dragonflies posing on tall bankside vegetation.
With Purple Loosestrife growing on the edge of the water.
Big ones and little ones.
Looking back towards the Castello Sforzesco.
Terrapins hanging out in the sun.
Butterflies and Neonics: First it was bees, then birds, now it's butterflies. A newly released study report indicates that it is quite likely that neonicotinoid pesticides are linked to a decline in certain species of butterflies in the UK. There is a suspicious looking correlation between the dates neonics became widely used in the UK in the mid-1990s and a dive in populations of generalist countryside inhabiting species of butterflies (ie those that breed and forage in farmland, ). The trend is particularly strong for grassland butterflies, which have long been studied Europe wide and taken to be indicator species. Equally, there is no such correlation between the introduction of neonics and butterflies with more specialist habitat requirements (this is no cause for celebration though, as these 26 species are already known to have dramatically declined in the 1970-80s).
The population of 17 common and widespread farmland species declined by 58% between 2000 and 2009, despite a substantial increase in spending on agri-conservation projects and despite no clear evidence of habitat deterioration in that period. Seasonal variations and their affects on breeding success were taken into consideration when calculating the fall in population. The scientists likened the effect they were seeing as similar to having a continuous run of very bad summers. The problem seems to lie with the persistance of neonics in the environment, in plant material, soil and water. At this stage the results indicate a correlation but do not show causation. It is possible that neonics are a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture. More studies are no doubt in the pipeline, and it seems fairly likely to me that these results will prove relevant to rural France too.