Insect decline

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Beatsy
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Insect decline

Post by Beatsy »

I've been thinking there are less insects about for some years and now it seems I'm definitely not imagining it (at least in the case of flying insects - 75% in 30 years in protected areas of Germany).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41670472

It's depressing to hear how far that decline has apparently progressed already. Have you noticed any change in your part of the world?

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

Yes, very much so, in both of my worlds: Wisconsin (where I am now) and Ecuador (where I live).

Sadly there is anecdotal evidence of important insect declines even in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with concurrent strong declines in insectivorous birds.

Smokedaddy
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Post by Smokedaddy »

... probably global warming. <g> We have TONS of scorpions, crickets etc., in my neck of the woods. I'd send you some if it wasn't so expensive.

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

In Ecuador one factor is light pollution, which draws flying insects from long distances. Natural gas flares at oil rigs are notorious for this. And reducing nocturnal insects increases predation pressure on diurnal insects, so both decline.

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

Fewer birds, as a result. I used to see a dozen around my house quite routinely. It just doesn't happen any more, even when food is left out.
Chris R

Beatsy
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Post by Beatsy »

Lou Jost wrote:In Ecuador one factor is light pollution, which draws flying insects from long distances. Natural gas flares at oil rigs are notorious for this. And reducing nocturnal insects increases predation pressure on diurnal insects, so both decline.
Gosh, I hadn't thought of that connection! Light pollution has long been a *major* bugbear of mine (ex observatory owner). Now I have even more reason to detest it!

The whole situation is depressing and deeply annoying in equal measure. What really gets my goat is the "deniers" of various forms who are only interested in short term profit for themselves and just stick their fingers in their ears and go "la la la la la la" when presented with irrefutable evidence that their greed will cost them (and everyone else) in the end. Or even worse, they lobby policy-makers and spew baseless evidence-free propaganda to discredit the findings.

Sigh - guess I'll just have to be thankful I only have a finite life span :(

Troels
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Post by Troels »

Same here.
Troels Holm, biologist (retired), environmentalist, amateur photographer.
Visit my Flickr albums

MarkSturtevant
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Post by MarkSturtevant »

I and a lot of people who are old can recall, anecdotally, how we would see so many more insects and other arthropods when we were young.

Another factor besides the ones mentioned that worry me are the Neonicotinoid insecticides used to pre-treat seeds of crops. These are very powerful toxins that last a very long time in the environment. They are detected now over every inch of the earth, and they are exposing arthropods without discrimination.

For this to be a factor in the declines, it does not have to be at a dose to kill insects. Merely making them just a little bit stoned all their life will more than be enough.
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

Beatsy
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Post by Beatsy »

MarkSturtevant wrote:...Another factor besides the ones mentioned that worry me are the Neonicotinoid insecticides...
I didn't know neonics were globally detectable now. Those, and insecticides in general bother me no end. Well, the producers of them do. Somehow, big-agri companies have lobbied (bribed) their way to a position where they can sell this stuff and have it plastered all over the countryside on an industrial scale - but it falls to others (who are rarely anywhere near as well funded) to prove that they cause harm in the longer term! And then it's too late...

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

people who are old can recall, anecdotally, how we would see so many more insects and other arthropods when we were young.

Discussing this in a group, aged from young to 80+, revealed a difference in experience. We all acknowledged the decreasing rate of windscreen/windshield kills, especially when including the memories as children, in our parents' cars. Impressions from the '90's going back to 1950 certainly revealed a change.
I can remember father having to stop regularly to clean the windscreen, during long journeys in the 1960's.

(Car aerodynamic design would have perhaps have an influence.)
Chris R

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

When I was growing up, nighthawks were a common feature of summer nights in Wisconsin. They'd fly around streetlights picking off big flying insects. Nighthawks are mostly gone now.

In the tropics we often notice that when lights first reach a region, tons of insects come to them every night, and insectivorous birds, reptiles, and amphibians hang out to eat the catch. Eventually they stop coming...


Olympusman
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Insect decline

Post by Olympusman »

10 years ago we had Lacewings all over the place. Haven't seen a single one in over five years.

Mike
Michael Reese Much FRMS EMS Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

MarkSturtevant
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Post by MarkSturtevant »

ChrisR wrote: Discussing this in a group, aged from young to 80+, revealed a difference in experience. We all acknowledged the decreasing rate of windscreen/windshield kills, especially when including the memories as children, in our parents' cars. Impressions from the '90's going back to 1950 certainly revealed a change.
I can remember father having to stop regularly to clean the windscreen, during long journeys in the 1960's.

(Car aerodynamic design would have perhaps have an influence.)
That really brings it into focus for me, since I remember that too. Windshields and grills fairly coated with guts and bits of insects. Blizzards of insects around street lights. I don't see these any more. :(
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

I began to notice a decline in certain insects here in Western North Carolina years ago but I assumed it was just me and all a misunderstanding of that which I was observing. I see now that I am not the only one who had noticed a decline in their presence overall.

Sometime, a few years back, I began to notice a decline in the number of butterflies that I was seeing. It wasn't any one species in particular, though some are dangerously declining in number, just a decline in the number of sightings of diverse individuals overall. The same with June bugs or Scarabs, Dragons and Damselflies and I live right near a creek. I have seen one adult Mayfly so far this year and come to think of it, no Scarabs or June bugs. Lady beetles are another that seem to be declining too in numbers here. I suppose that if I sat and thought more on it, the list could possibly go on. It seems that just when I was really starting to develop and interest in insects, that is when I began noticing a decline in the numbers of them. :-k

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