At what cost?

A recent article presented on CNN titled “The insect apocalypse is coming: Here’s what you can do about it.” reports that up to 41% of insect species may face extinction in the coming decades. A major source for this article was a study authored by Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK. His report is titled “Insect Declines and Why They Matter.
Dr Goulsons report begins with a statement which will likely hit home to many of you

“In the last fty years, we have reduced the abundance of wildlife on Earth dramatically. Many species that were once common are now scarce. Much attention focusses on declines of large, charismatic animals, but recent evidence suggests that abundance of insects may have fallen by 50% or more since 1970. This is troubling, because insects are vitally important, as food, pollinators and recyclers amongst other things. Perhaps more frightening, most of us have not noticed that anything has changed. Even those of us who can remember the 1970s, and who are interested in nature, can’t accurately remember how many butterflies or bumblebees there were when we were children.”

We all know that insects, like em or leave em, are responsible for pollination of three quarters of our food crops. Thus we can expect to pay dearly if insect populations decline as predicted.

Dr Goulson is not alone in his assessment of the rate of potential insect decline. A review published by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G.Wyckhuys titled “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers” reaches similar conclusions citing habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species and climate change as primary drives of insect loss.1

Both studies suggest we can do a few things to stem the decline in insect populations like:

1 Plant a garden using plants that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

2.Create more insect habitat like a log or brush pile. These attract humble insects and invertebrates like woodlice, which recycle nutrients and act as food for birds and small mammals.

3.Voice your opinion to your local authorities. Push for planting native trees that flower on streets and parks and plant wildflowers in road medians.

4. Avoid using pesticides and encourage your friends, family and local government to do the same.

Besides their role in a functional ecosystem insects are darn cool to observe and photograph as well. At what cost we will begin see the beauty of life on earth.

Click on any photo to play slide show.

Reference:
1.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020

A few links on creating a pollinator friendly garden. Yes we are going into winter but it’s never too early to think about next years garden.

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/PollinatorGarden.html
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/gardening.shtml

Bombylis major: Bee-fly mimic

An early arrival as the first spring wildflowers spring is Bombylis major a bee-fly mimic. Bomblyis is about 1/2-3/4 inches long and fuzzy as a cuddly teddy bear. At first thought you might think that probosces is quite the stinger but it is harmless and used to collect nectar.

These guys move very quickly from flower to flower early in the spring and seem to be gone by July which coincides with the decrease ins spring wildflowers.

Gotta love these little guys with the long proboscis, spindly legs and fuzzball bodies pollinating the spring flowers.

Coneflower and Friends

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From Bees to Beetles to Butterflies the humble coneflower befriends them all.

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Several types of bees all in the same five minutes time. We counted over five.

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Pollen sacks are getting full and it looks like it is time to return to the hive.

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A smaller bee with long antenna.

Then along comes this beetle on an unopened bud.

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