I looked at some land use data for Iowa. Iowa State University Outreach and Extension publishes it here. Calculating the numbers a little bit shows 74% of the land in Iowa as “cropland.” Apparently there are several different types of cropland, including” rotational pasture,” and “other,” so “harvested cropland” comes in at 65%. I think that means mostly row crops, and mostly corn and soybeans.
What kind of habitat is corn and beans? Let’s look specifically at butterfly habitat.
This is a bean field. The photo was taken in the middle of winter, of course, but where could butterflies survive here?
The habitat is no better in the summer time. There is no place for caterpillars to grow. No host plants. No structure for any pupa to hide under.
Corn fields are no better. In terms of butterfly habitat, a corn field or a bean field is as bad as a parking lot.
65% of Iowa’s land is corn and beans. If all other habitat was pristine, we would still be down to only 35% of the butterflies that the habitat would support.
But the remaining 35% is far from pristine.