Big Scare Material

Where Have All the Insects Gone...?

I'm already having a hard time accepting that the world is losing glaciers. (Same magazine - see below)

NOW I'm supposed to accept placidly and like a good little Olde Fart that we are losing insects by the giga-ton.

Deserves way more discussion. But first.....
...this REALLY worries me.

Big news in Science Magazine, May 12 edition (we get ours kinda slow out here in the mountains)!
NextGen entomologists in Germany present the stunning news that just since 1989 insect population - most species - are down about 80%! Think starting with 10 dogs you love, and you've got 2 left. HUGE decline, and not a one-off, a continuing, terrifying trend. [SciMag]

I've been ranting about the mass extinction we are in for a while. "Moving fast enough for us to actually see" has been my evidence that this is moving really, really fast, geologically speaking.

What didn't occur to me was how dramatically some extinctions would lead the pack. Insects!

An effective attack on insects would be the most deadly Weapon of Mass Destruction imaginable. So why on Gaia would we be waging this attack against ourselves at this weakest spot?  Are we nuts?

This a personal message to President Trump.

Dear Mr. President,

This is a chance to become a Hero of the Currently-Non-Core-Supporters.
Define and fix the Insect Apocalypse. Spend bigly on emergency research to define the problem all over America. Figure out what's causing this blitzkrieg on bugs. Then FIX IT, or at least get the fix started. It's probably complicated. 
You will be a savior of mankind. Not kidding.
Scooter Duff

*pix credit


Axel Foley said…
Hey there SJ! Told you I'd check out your blog and here I am! Hey, regarding this subject, if you take into consideration the habitat loss that not only insects but other non-human creatures have been enduring is it any surprise at all these numbers are dropping? I think you could write Obama / Trump / Gandhi all day everyday and it won't do a thing to help. What needs to be done is that we, the everyday person, needs to rise to the occasion and lend our DNA brothers and sisters a hand. Couple of things, STOP USING ROUNDUP. Let a section of your lawn, or better yet the whole thing go native! STOP MOWING! Put in a pond, do NOT stock it with goldfish or koi. If you have dead trees on your property let them STAND, they're HABITAT. We've taken and continue to take away homes and if you consider Roundup POISON the little critters! Time to stop the damage. In case you're wondering we have done everything listed except for letting our lawn go totally native. Right now we have about 1/8th acre like that. At the end of this summer I'm going to talk to my neighbors and see if they'll freak if we let the whole thing go. Native plants are play a huge role.
Axel Foley said…
UPDATE - I have a lovely view of a portion of a sidewalk near a flower bed and during dinner last night I noticed a big bunch of various birds, mainly cat birds and cardinals, pecking at it in rather high spirits, I said to Mrs Foley, "That's a colony getting ready to swarm, hopefully not termites (due to proximity to the house)" so I went out to check it out and it was wee red ants, thousands of them, ready to fly off and start a new colony. Bugs at our place look fine. I suggest that you go out and make you own observations. Rooskies have a great saying that I believe is extremely relevant in today's word - TRUST BUT VERRIFY.
Hey, Axel... We have been in the mountains of New Mexico for nearly 20 years now. There is a definite reduction in insects in our time. Everything ... moths, flies, wild bees, wasps, et al. Certain ants and beetles are doing ok. We haven't any way to quantify what we are seeing, but it is very obvious. My wife plants many wild, pollinator-attractive plants we get from NM State in an effort to encourage insects. There are many "invasive" plants sweeping through, cheatgrass being the latest, but we see few or no invasive insects. I have not seen a single bat this spring, and a few years ago they were all about. We see fewer swallows, too. Also fewer flycatchers. I suppose this means there are fewer flying bugs for them to catch. I hope your optimism is on the mark, believe me, but I am worried.
Axel Foley said…
Hi Scooter! We're in East PA about 50 miles north of Philadelphia. Since becoming aware of the concern over decreased insect populations I have made an effort to become more observant. I have to admit that I wasn't so much in the past. We have had a really wet and cool spring so far here, we have had the need to run our central air only two days so far this year, in comparison last year we had run it for approximately six weeks straight by this date (6/1). That being said I have noticed a marked decrease in the amount of bugs gathering around our porch light at night. Usually if we step outside you have to "shoo" them off the screen door otherwise they're coming in with you. We're no kill people so we have a few dedicated "bug cups" we use for catch and release. Anyway we have not had to do that once yet this year. At this time I'm going to attribute this to the weather up until this point. I will keep you posted. Try not to worry too much, and applaud you and your wife for your dedication to helping out our fellow inhabitants! Please keep in touch.
Good on you guys, Axel, for being no-killers. Us too, except for the absolute plague of field mice that has descended on us this year. I was trapping and removing about half a mile into the woods. Then I missed one day and found a mom and three pups dead from dehydration in one trap. I decided (based on my absent mindedness) to go to kill traps rather than risk torturing more to death. On insects, a wave of American Lady butterflies came through last week. Never happened before, so I reckon is reflective of changing migration routes. All gone now, but it was fun while it lasted.
Axel Foley said…
Hey there Scooter! Sorry for delay in getting back to you. Nice observation on the butterflies! Are you set up with feed / cover for the little buggers? We noted that we have a dearth of food sources for pollinators that runs from late May until mid-June. Hopefully our naturalization efforts will mitigate that.
Since I last posted there has been a marked increase in the local insect population. I must admit that I was a little concerned in that I did not notice much pollinator activity, but even so I was aware that there wasn’t really too much going on as far as flowering plants for them to work with and it was still really wet and cool for June. . That has all changed over the last week. The clover has started blooming as well as out hostas and yes, the bumble bees have arrived. I haven’t made any observations as far as concentrations but I will have a better feel for that by next Monday. Also I noticed for the first time mosquito larvae in the bird bath (the bastards). While mowing (I set the cut height at 5” and stop if I see a moth or bee of anything for that matter in front of me, my neighbors think I’m a lunatic) on Weds I noticed a northern brown snake sunning himself under on one of our sidewalks. He(?) looked nice and healthy . There main diet is worms and grubs and other slug like stuff so his presence would seem to indicate that at least that section of the local food chain is intact. Encouraging!
OK now for what I’m not too pleased with. From what I recall we normally have a pretty good number of daddy long leg spiders wandering around by this time of the year. I think I’ve seen maybe one so far. Maybe this is a product of the late start I alluded to before. Also I don’t think I’ve seen a single earwig or garden variety of slug (the big suckers, 3+ inches). I’ll keep an eye out. I’m admittedly a “glass half full” kinda guy so I’m going to stay optimistic.
Ending on a upbeat note - our population of carnivorous birds seems very large and healthy. We are under constant close air support (lol) by at least two families of grey cat birds. They follow us around apparently watching for any moth or other winged creature that we may kick up. Also we have robins out the wazzo. The rest of the bird population seems to be doing fine. We have been at our current residence since the late 90’s and since arriving we have kept our bird feeder filled. We also feed beef suet. Anyway I can write a few pages on just that, but one thing I wanted to share was that a bird showed up that I could not identify, and all of my searching led me to the uncomfortable conclusion that it was in face a ladderback woodpecker – which is indigenous to YOUR area, not PA! Anyway long story short refusal to accept that one stowed away in a moving truck and survived a cross country trip and made it to my feeder as a plausible explanation I delved deeper and found that in fact we are being visited by a yellow bellied sap sucker. Took forever to figure that out! Anyway take care, looking forward to hearing from you.

Popular posts from this blog

Can You Buy Some Extra Years?

Super Newspaper, The DMN

Take Me Home, Microbiome