Buy wine from Washington and support butterfly conservation

ButterfliesView larger image

You might want to watch out for the opportunity to buy wine from Washington State, following the news that efforts to reduce pesticide usage have had an unexpected effect on local butterfly populations there.

Some Washington vineyards have been attempting alternatives to chemicals for the control of pests - in particular by introducing 'natural' insect habitats alongside their vines.

The purpose behind this is to encourage the growth in population of insects like wasps, which are harmless to vines but feed on the kinds of smaller grubs that can cause damage to the grapes.

It's a relatively natural solution (even if the habitats are artificially planted) and it's seeing unpredicted side-effects as populations of butterflies are on the increase too.

Compared with vineyards that use chemical pesticides, these Washington vineyards have three times as many species of butterfly, and four times as many of the colourful creatures in total.

There's no direct benefit to the vines, but for anyone visiting the vineyards on a tour, it's a colourful addition to the view - and arguably a good reason to buy wine from Washington State vineyards, if you have never done so before.