Dramatic plunge in flying insect populations

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers.
IMHO this is very troubling.

It’ll be fine. These things happen all the time and there hasn’t been an Armageddon yet. They’re just bugs. It’s not like we hit an iceberg or something.

Look, if this was serious, would the band still be playing? Forget about that and come help me rearrange all these deck chairs.

Tell the scientists to call me - the bugs migrated from Germany to my kitchen this year.

After another year, the dramatic plunge is even clearer. It still may seem “anecdotal” because studies of insect population size are uncommon.

  • a tropical ecologist named Brad Lister returned to the rain forest where he had studied lizards — and, crucially, their prey — 40 years earlier. Lister set out sticky traps and swept nets across foliage in the same places he had in the 1970s, but … [w]here once he caught 473 milligrams of bugs, Lister was now catching just eight milligrams.

  • The strange thing, Lister said, is that, as staggering as they are, all the declines he documented would still be basically invisible to the average person walking through the Luquillo rain forest. On his last visit, the forest still felt “timeless” and “phantasmagorical,” with “cascading waterfalls and carpets of flowers.” You would have to be an expert to notice what was missing. But he expects the losses to push the forest toward a tipping point, after which “there is a sudden and dramatic loss of the rain-forest system,” and the changes will become obvious to anyone. The place he loves will become unrecognizable.

  • In the United States … the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years, a loss of 900 million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee … dropped by 87 percent over the same period.

  • Trillions of bugs flitting from flower to flower pollinate some three-quarters of our food crops, a service worth as much as $500 billion every year. (This doesn’t count the 80 percent of wild flowering plants, the foundation blocks of life everywhere, that rely on insects for pollination.) If monetary calculations like that sound strange, consider the Maoxian Valley in China, where shortages of insect pollinators have led farmers to hire human workers, at a cost of up to $19 per worker per day, to replace bees. Each person covers five to 10 trees a day, pollinating apple blossoms by hand.

We know what to do but we will not do it. People just don’t feel like saving themselves.

I am so glad I never had children.

Wow. This is serious. I can understand the loss in farming areas - all those insects have to eat something and that something is likely food being grown for humans - but the jungle is another matter.

It will be interesting to see as they become more and more scarce if slight mutations that are more adapted to a changing environment don’t start popping up. Insects can breed very fast and after one or two consecutive good breeding seasons populations could be back to normal.

Do pesticides repell bugs or kill them?

Strange. I would have thought that as the global climate warmed, it would make ecosystems more and more hospitable to bugs and that we’d see an explosion in bug populations. Thought warmth = better in general for species, I guess.

This is going to sound like a stupid question, but all the thousands or millions of acres of corn that is planted in the US every year, is still dependent on bugs to make them grow?

Corn is wind pollinated.

Apple farmers in China are having to hand pollinate their trees.

Of course, this will be called fake news by the government.

Ok. What about wheat? Or tomatoes? Or any commercial crops. The US commercial food crops are still dependent on bugs to survive?

Again, I know this sounds stupid, but I had no idea.

I’m assuming all of the grass-seed crops are wind pollinated. The crops without visible petaled flowers tend to be wind pollinated, and ones with them insect pollinated.

Kill. The key is in the -“cide”.

Hey, not everyone grows stuff, it’s cool.

As a general rule, the grain crops, which are mostly grasses, are wind pollinated and don’t require insects. That’s wheat, rye, oats, rice, etc.

As a general rule, fruits and vegetables (everything else) require “bugs” - mostly bees but some are pollinated by moths, butterflies, flies, etc.

So yes, a lot of our food supply is still dependent on “bugs”, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Long term there is no question that insects will continue to thrive and adapt. But many of the species that rely on them? They may not keep up and handle the transition. That’s what got referenced in that NYT article as “a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web” except it’s not just the forest food web.****