Where have all the insects gone?  Revisited 

Insects perform many important roles in Earth’s ecosystems including – pollination of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, decomposition of organic matter, they help to control harmful pests and are fundamentally vital to ecosystem food chains.  

The windscreen phenomenon has now been theorised following years of research. A twenty-year splatometer study in Denmark found an 80% decline between 1997 and 2017. Honey, Bumble and Solitary bees are substantial pollinators, which we all depend on but are in severe demise on a large scale. What could possibly have contributed to this?

…….Climate change? There are gaps in our understanding of how insects (environmentally sensitive cold-blooded organisms) and ecosystems will respond to climate change.

…..Current farming methods and monoculture?

The removal of biodiversity and plants to forage – poor nourishment equals sick pollinating insects and poorly bees.  Habitat loss is killer for every living creature living on this planet.   

……Is it down to Pesticides?

Our entire environment is spoiled by man generated chemicals. Pollutants exist in the atmosphere we breathe; the soil we use for growing crops and the water we drink.

From the use of a few millilitres in the garden to gallons in the fields, high risk chemicals are used ubiquitously and often without a thought. Identified nerve agents such as parathion, malathion, methyl parathion, diazinon & phosmet are a few named chemicals from the family of Organophosphates. Toxic neonicotinoid pesticides such as clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam were banned from use from December 2013 for two years and was extended, but now are creeping back into practices.  The UK government issues, with strict conditions, emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat seeds for the 2023 sugar beet seed crop in England. The product is ‘Cruiser SB’, which provides protection against a range of pests and the viruses they transmit.  What are the residual effects in soil and the ecosystem, consider bioaccumulation?   Honey, Bumble and Solitary bees are all highly sensitive organisms. They navigate by smell using their olfactory organs and seeing nectar rich flowers in UV light through composite eyes.

Lethal chemicals used in agriculture have a massive impact on the homing behaviour in bees; they disturb natural communication, have a direct influence on olfactory systems and bee immunity leading to colony disorder and eventually collapse. Bees and insects are in dire need of our help – NOW! No more chemicals & No more habitat removal – two colossal factors killing our bees.

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

    Albert Einstein

    Following the governments lack of progress since the Environment Act was published in 2021, the first proper review of the 25 Year Environment Plan will be the focus of the governmental policy in the coming years (we’ve heard this one before ….) involving the following environmental objectives:

    • thriving plants and wildlife – an apex target
    • clean air
    • clean and plentiful water
    • managing exposure to chemicals and pesticides
    • maximise our resources, minimise our waste
    • using resources from nature sustainably
    • mitigating and adapting to climate change
    • reducing the risk of harm from environmental hazards
    • enhancing biosecurity; and
    • enhancing beauty, heritage, and engagement with the natural environment

    Notably In October last year (2022), the government had breached its own legislation, after missing a deadline to introduce new legally binding targets for air quality, water health, nature, and waste management set under the “World-leading” Environment Act 2021. Poor leadership isn’t going to help at this point.

    In a timely coincidence, the State of UK’s Butterflies report (the plight of insects) has become a universal concern.   From citizen science data (the Big Butterfly Count carried out by volunteers) gives us a challenge to save “The little things that run the world”.  The data concludes species population, abundances, and foreseeable trends.  From this, it is known that 80% of butterfly species have decreased in abundance or distribution, or both since the 1970s.  This is shocking, and we know about it year, upon year.  

    (Sourced: Butterfly Conservation STATE OF UK BUTTERFLIES 2022) 

    Let’s hope that, according to the big Environment Plan, the primary objective to improve biodiversity – replant, rewild, preserve and conserve areas of habitats starts to move, and quickly.     


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