The Insect Crisis

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Olympusman
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The Insect Crisis

Post by Olympusman »

I actually saw a beetle the other day.
I just finished The Insect Crisis by Oliver Milman, which paints a fairly grim image of where the world is heading with a diminished insect population. I have been noticing this disaster up close for some time. I haven't seen a Flat-Backed Millipede in over four years and haven't seen any lacewings, which used to common here, in over five years. We haven't heard the buzz of mosquitoes for many years, and the prate spiders, once common under the eaves of our house, are no more.
However, opportunists like the Spotted Lanternfly, stink bugs and assasin bugs are doing quite well.
There are also fewer birds in our area than there used to be.
Prepare for the biome of the future.

Mike
Michael Reese Much FRMS EMS Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

ray_parkhurst
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by ray_parkhurst »

I live in the suburbs of the SF Bay Area, and we still have quite a few familiar insects and birds and other wildlife. When I go out to work in the yard, I find millipedes and beetles and moths and so much more. If the area I'm working is wet I need to be careful as there are California Salamanders all around. I've never seen so many bees on my rosemary bushes, and with spring the bees are pollenating the pears and plums and making a bigger buzz than ever before. We are organic gardeners so no pesticides, which I think is the big problem with folks that don't have the diversity we have here. We just had our first successful clutch of doves, and the doves are back to the nest already for the next clutch. Last year we had ~12 total and I'm hoping for more this year. I plan to put out some bettern nests to make it easier for them. So at least in my neck of the woods, it doesn't look like the apocalypse, but I'm sure diversity varies wildly and in correlation with local and wider practices of pesticide and other chemical uses.

MarkSturtevant
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by MarkSturtevant »

Numerous surveys have been done in the U.S. and in Europe, involving collections of insects at light traps, and sweep nets over specified areas. These results are compared against similar collection methods years and even decades ago. Most (not all) find declines of insects in general. This is in a way not surprising since we can literally see loss of habitat from orbit. Fields, forests, and wetlands have been steadily lost through expansion of farm land and suburbs. Insects are heavily extirpated there, certainly, but even in remaining natural areas there are losses since populations normally expand by infiltration from surrounding areas - now gone due to development. Then there is the use of pesticides, and even low doses of residual pesticides will cause insects to be as good as dead. Several other factors also contribute, like light pollution, invasive species (always healthy populations of those!), and so on.
Then we all have our own anecdotal stories to tell. Anecdotes should not weigh as heavily as honest data gathering, but in any case one of mine is what I see after taking a long drive across any state in the midwest. When I was young, those drives would result in a heavy coating of dead bugs on the grill and windshield. Now, similar drives have a lot less of that.
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

Beatsy
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by Beatsy »

Similar observations here Mark. The most obvious one for me is the loss of small flying insects. If I sit at the north side of the garden looking toward the shaded south side (tall fence), the brightly lit insects jump right out against the shade. It was only 10-15 years ago that there were clouds of insects flying around all the time. Now, I can sit there for an hour at any time in daylight and only see one or two at any given moment. Sometimes none if it's cool. I still get little swarms of gnats occasionally, but those are way down too.

I think we hit a tipping point in the past decade and the losses are accelerating, with ever more knock-on effects. Troubling!

rjlittlefield
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by rjlittlefield »

There's a Zoom seminar coming up on April 12 (2022), "Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts". Link at https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/mcgui ... id-wagner/ .

From top to bottom in the graphic, the advertising slide lists Global Warming, Interaction Disruption, Fire, Storm Intensity, Droughts, Nitrification, Pollution, Deforestation, Introduced Species, Agricultural Intensification, Insecticides, and Urbanization. Just in the Pollution category are "chemical, light, and sound".

--Rik

ray_parkhurst
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by ray_parkhurst »

rjlittlefield wrote:
Sat Apr 09, 2022 5:12 pm
There's a Zoom seminar coming up on April 12 (2022), "Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts". Link at https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/mcgui ... id-wagner/ .

From top to bottom in the graphic, the advertising slide lists Global Warming, Interaction Disruption, Fire, Storm Intensity, Droughts, Nitrification, Pollution, Deforestation, Introduced Species, Agricultural Intensification, Insecticides, and Urbanization. Just in the Pollution category are "chemical, light, and sound".

--Rik
Yep, humans are a terrible virus that is destroying the planet. There probably isn't a single place on this earth that has not been visited and exploited by our species. This is the reason there are powerful factions aimed at depopulation. It probably won't take long for the biosphere to recover after 99% of humans have been killed off, and with that level of destruction it will take quite a while before we exceed the 500M limit set by the Georgia Guidestones, which are a driving force for the depopulationists. There are of course quite a few species that can never return, but we have not yet destroyed the planet such that it can't generate new ones. Even a global thermonuclear war, concentrated on the cities, while devastating to the human population, won't do anywhere near as much damage to the bioshere as we humans will do in the next century if our growth remains unchecked.

Coming soon to a theater near you.

shrek
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by shrek »

Hello
Same observation, here in the Tarn, in France, sad world
jpierre

NikonUser
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by NikonUser »

Atlantic Canada still has a good diversity:
HERE
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

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CharlesT
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by CharlesT »

There is quite an interesting paper studying the moth numbers/diversity collected in the (standardised) light trap network run by Rothamsted in the UK:
https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/news/moths ... -or-cities

(There is a link to the paper at the bottom of the webpage).
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Chris S.
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by Chris S. »

Quite interesting article. And it mirrors what I'm seeing in my patch of midwestern USA. I live surrounded by broadleaf woodland with elements of old growth. Moving here in 2001, one of the delights was seeing "silk" moths--luna, cecropia, promethea, io, polyphemus--in late spring and early summer. Working at my computer at night, I'd have to turn off the lights to keep these moths from battering themselves against the screens.

Then a few years ago, I realized I hadn't seen these moths in a few years. Nothing significant here has changed much--the trees, dark nights, lack of pesticides. We have had deer for 30-40 years, but the layer of plants they can reach has not changed appreciably since 2001. (Though it did change during the twenty years prior, when deer were first reintroduced.)

One small ray of hope: Last year, I heard sound in the window, and looked up to see a luna moth. I was very happy to douse the lights.

--Chris S.

CharlesT
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Re: The Insect Crisis

Post by CharlesT »

Well, it is hopeful that you you have had at least one bash against your screen.
I cannot say whether this is still relevent, but G.C.Varley collated and replotted (on a log10 scale) survey data from the German Forest service:
Varley 1949 changes in German forest 1024.jpg
It sort of highlights the enormous swings than can occur in populations over long lengths of time.

The Article itself: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1586

I guess that if you have potentially ~60 offspring it is going to be intrinsically difficult to maintain a stable population.
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