Insect Armageddon

Insects are pretty central to the cycle of life on earth. They eat the dead things, they create the top soil, they feed the birds and small animals and they pollinate the plants.

We need them big time but they are disappearing…

It was obvious this summer, there were hardly any in our garden, much fewer butterflies, no annoying bugs around your head in the evening and virtually none splattered on the windscreen of the car.

So where the hell are they? How could they have just disappeared? And why does no one seem to care?

In the UK ladybird, butterflies and Bee populations are crashing drastically.

The figures are shocking:

There has been a 99% drop in UK moth numbers between 1968 and 2007.

In Germany they recorded an 82% drop in insects over a 27 years period recently.

And arguably more worryingly than that 98% of ground insects had disappeared from the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico over 35 years.

“The number of hot spells, temperatures above 29C, have increased
tremendously,” he said. “It went from zero in the 1970s up to something
like 44% of the days.” Factors important elsewhere in the world, such as
destruction of habitat and pesticide use, could not explain the
plummeting insect populations in Luquillo, which has long been a
protected area.
Data on other animals that feed on bugs backed up the findings. “The
frogs and birds had also declined simultaneously by about 50% to 65%,”
Lister said. The population of one dazzling green bird that eats almost
nothing but insects, the Puerto Rican tody, dropped by 90%

Do what you can in your own garden. Also see In the Garden page

  • Don’t pave over paradise for the sake of a driveway, a patio or a lawn. Try hard standing just for the wheel tracks or use Greencote (embedding matting) which allows drainage and plant growth.
  • Plant native flowers (more plants and less grass is great for the animals). Be careful to check that the flowers you buy are not already covered in insecticides – many plants in garden centres are! B&Q sell good plants. Other places may do as well but check first!
  • Don’t use insect spray because your flowers have Black fly.
  • And certainly don’t replace grass with astroturf just because you can’t be bothered to mow some grass (it’s plastic and no animals can live on it).
  • Plant native plants. Find out which are best for insects.Leave the leaves on the ground.
  • Pile up old wood in a corner to encourage the little things into your garden every way you can.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University, said at the time. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological armageddon. If we lose the insects, then everything is going to collapse.”

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