In the Northeast, as in many other places, this past winter was absolutely brutal. In February, the Boston Globe ran an article about how many areas were running out of road salt. It got so bad that price gouging became an issue, and some states turned to somewhat strange alternatives, like pickle juice. Ships carrying 50,000-65,000 tons of salt from Chile were heading up the coast as quickly as possible, but even those vast quantities weren’t enough for Mother Nature this time around. We dumped oodles of salt on the roadways this winter, and researchers are learning that it’s messing with animals, specifically butterflies.
You might not think that salt would be a problem, given that it’s naturally occurring, as opposed to the pesticides and chemicals we introduce into the ecosystem. It’s also true that butterflies like salt—they even drink crocodile and turtle tears. But the pursuit of salt is part of the insect’s way of life, and if humans deliver an excess of the stuff for the taking, it can actually end up messing with their physiologies, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.