Taiwan freeway officials help butterflies find their way

Bracing for the migratory peak of millions of purple milkweed butterflies, officials in Taiwan are closing one lane of a major highway, installing netting to encourage the butterflies to rise above traffic, and using ultraviolet lights to guide them under a busy bridge. “Human beings need to coexist with the other species, even if they are tiny butterflies,” says Lee Thay-ming of the National Freeway Bureau. With a study by the Butterfly Conservation Society of Taiwan showing that 11,500 butterflies a minute winged their way across the now four-year-old freeway during three hours on an April day in 2005, lepidopterists hope the measures will reduce deaths-by-splattering. The closing coincides with the annual Tomb-Sweeping Festival, a celebration of life and death; the bureau advises celebrants to maintain normal speeds and safety. The loosely translated but oddly poetic goal: “Much more our patience, less fewer the butterfly casualties, much more imagination of Taiwan.”