If Donald Trump succeeds in erecting a giant wall in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas in an effort to stop human migration, it could instead destroy an ecosystem that provides sanctuary for some of the loveliest and most delicate creatures on Earth: butterflies.

That’s because the promised 36-foot-tall steel and concrete wall would cut straight through The National Butterfly Center, on the southern edge of Mission TX — cutting off many butterflies and other species unable or unwilling to fly over it.


The San Antonio Express-News reports that “a local Mission law enforcement officer” told a community organizer that the Center, which has long been private property, “is all federal land now.”

The Center’s executive director, Marianna Treviño-Wright, disputes that claim — although the federal budget for fiscal year 2018 approved funding for 14 miles of border wall through Hidalgo County, where Mission and the Butterfly Center are located. Some heavy construction equipment has already been moved into the grounds.

The Center says the wall would affect not only numerous butterfly species, but also ground species that would be prevented from foraging and mating; some birds — like the pygmy owl — that fly relatively low to the ground; nocturnal wildlife, whose activities would be hampered by brightly lit “drag roads” along the wall’s path, and even humans, who would be “cut off from [their] only source of fresh water, in this irrigated desert,” the Rio Grande.

Building the wall, says Treviño-Wright, means the area — “whatever they wind up taking and bulldozing, would be devoid of life.”

For more from Treviño-Wright, see the video above:

Here’s a short documentary on the Butterfly Center.