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Pmt111500

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Decline in insect populations
« on: October 19, 2017, 12:09:48 PM »
A short think between me and a scientist didn't uncover a direct  climate change connection, though. That doesn't exclude could have indirect effects. Potential Habitat reserved for human use, extensive use of pesticides have locked the studied areas in a state of degeneration and splitting the available habitats. Climate change could have effects through poorer nutritional value of co2 induced growth of foodplants and weather. Habitat destruction is easier in secluded small areas. Interesting anyhow.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers

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« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 12:32:37 PM by Neven »
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Avalonian

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2017, 02:35:18 PM »
It's a sad state of affairs, this, and there are actually plenty of climate change connections when you start looking...

For example, I'm one of the people monitoring UK Hemiptera species, and we're seeing, on average, four or five new species a year being recorded. We're also getting previous visitors being able to get established, so the total diversity at the moment is actually increasing steadily. There are also changes on a local scale; my area of mid Wales is seeing a lot of new colonists that were previously stuck the other side of the border due to the harsher weather. This has got to be a direct reflection of milder winters, in particular.

The influx of species new to a region has all sorts of knock-on effects, in extreme cases (e.g. the Harlequin Ladybird, or the Elm Bark Borer) having a huge effect on numerous native species. Where a colonist becomes hugely successful, it can knock out some of the ecological buffer systems, leading to boom-and-bust cycles, and unexpected collapses. I'm not sure whether this could result in lower overall insect abundance per se, but it certainly makes the ecology more vulnerable.

The boom-and-bust cycles also result in occasional plagues of aphids, for example, or caterpillars, which are dealt with by farmers in the traditional way: by throwing something toxic at them. This, of course, gets into the local environment, and kills a whole lot more than intended.

A balanced ecosystem, with all its components functioning, is moderately stable and robust to environmental perturbations. An ecosystem with major components suppressed or missing results in more unstable population dynamics, which exacerbates the whole cycle. For example, a small population of caterpillars one year leads to a reduction in their dependent predators; the following year, because the parasitoid wasps have been hit badly and butterflies lay lots of eggs, the caterpillar population booms, and the predators can't keep it under control. So the farmers spray with something extra-nasty, decimating the parasitoids as well as the caterpillars. Rinse and repeat.

I'm sure there are lots of more specific aspects as well. One is changes in weather patterns. In the UK, floods or frost in late April to May are catastrophic for insect populations, because they coincide with flightless larvae; we've had several very bad years. Changes in the plant flowering and budding seasons can also cause problens; last year, for example, I say leaf-feeding insects on a leafless tree, waiting for the buds to burst. Because so many insects are strictly host-specific, a late opening of leaves can result in the population crashing.

There are probably masses more... but insects are extremely sensitive to environmental change. The first clue we had to the rapidity of temperature changes at the end of the last glacial was, I believe, Russell Coope's work on peatland beetles: sub-arctic to Mediterranean faunas in the same place, in a few years. He was soundly laughed at, of course.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 02:51:16 PM by Avalonian »

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2017, 03:24:00 PM »
A previous article in the Guardian looked at the presence of pesticides in honey.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/21/assumed-safety-of-widespread-pesticide-use-is-false-says-top-government-scientist

It is not a big leap to assume that pesticides are present throughout the insect population and maybe inside us.
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Pmt111500

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2017, 04:58:46 PM »
Oh, <Avalonian> hemiptera. I've done local butterfly monitoring for abt 10 years and had moths/butterflies as a hobby every now and then for some 30. The 3-5 year gaps in monitoring could be seen on the records by the variation and pretty steady rises and falls in certain species, so i can somewhat relate. Here's one species which might have some difficulties in finland in 100 years. Might have seen it myself once in 1986? but of course not identified it. And probably still wouldn't, there are just so many groups of insecta around, can't know them all.

Currently my health prevents me from going out much, so I tried last year to monitor nearby very closely. The result was dismal, but that's more of a location issue. Still managed to find two species I didn't see in 1990s when I last lived hereby.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 05:44:34 PM by Pmt111500 »
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Avalonian

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 03:20:40 AM »
Ah, Chiloxanthus! We've only got one (different) species in the UK, and so far it's eluded me, but I do like saldids. Yes, it's likely to be these ones with very specific requirements that are vulnerable to vanishing... but that's always surprisingly hard to predict. For example, one scarce saldid species in the UK, S. opacula, used to be restricted to a few high-altitude lochans in Scotland, and a couple of southern saltmarshes... but is now appearing much more widely, in brownfield sites and marshlands. Sometimes they just don't do what we'd expect them to.  ???

jai mitchell

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 08:07:43 AM »
 :-X
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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2017, 10:02:36 AM »
Probably many things have an impact. Over here, when we have ants, than we put some poison on them. Otherwise we have hundreds of them in the house the year after. When we have some weed growing between the stones, we put some poison on them. When i was young we had many moles in the garden, and we put smokebomds (poison) in their tunnels.  We killed everything we could to let everything look nice and beautifull. A part of all that airpollution falls on your soil, and with the first rain it's in your soil. And if you look at the number of cars and trucks that are driving on this planet and at the quantities of all kinds of poisons and chemicals that are sold worldwide. Than you know that there are giant quantities of garbage in our soil. They are close to dead. And that brings the question, how many insects needed something that was living in that soil. Because they are all gone now. And the bad news is, little by little all that garbage will find his way to the sea in the next dozens of years. Every time it rains, flows in groundwater will bring it a little closer to the sea. And if you look at that global expansion from the last years, than you know what our sea's are going to get. I fear that many people don't understand how bad we have been for our planet. But they will find out soon.

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2017, 01:40:03 PM »
Something to cheer us up for the weekend

"Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown"
George Monbiot

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/insectageddon-farming-catastrophe-climate-breakdown-insect-populations
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sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2017, 08:49:47 PM »
In the Monbiot article there is a link to a 2010 paper that shows insectivorous birds declining in N. America. The evidence is not as clear as the German study, and the time period of the study is much shorter, but it is worth looking at, I think.

http://www.ace-eco.org/vol5/iss2/art1/

sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2017, 03:13:49 AM »
Thanks Sidd - interesting. I suspect the same pattern is happening all over the developed world, but you need to sample in the right way to see it.

A friend in mid Wales is a 90-year-old moth trapper (recently given up, since he can no longer remember all the names), who has been setting weekly traps for 50 years. Anyone who's run a moth trap knows what to expect nowadays - good nights and bad nights, with the bad nights having almost nothing caught.  What we've all mostly forgotten is what it was like a few decades ago, when he would measure the nightly haul in pounds of moths. On good nights he'd have to run it for a few hours only, or the moths would start dying in the crush. 

That's the level of insect abundance that we've lost... and most of us simply can't remember what it was like. I'm trying hard to persuade him to publish his records...

sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2017, 04:09:37 AM »
We have killed all the megafauna, and now our carelessness is killing the microfauna. Not even necessarily through malice, but through careless inattention, and that is an obscenity.

sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2017, 11:34:14 AM »
We have killed all the megafauna, and now our carelessness is killing the microfauna. Not even necessarily through malice, but through careless inattention, and that is an obscenity.

sidd
Sidd I don't think it was through careless inattention. The big guys (monsanto,gargill etc.) and those before them have been actively seeking poisons to wipe out the microfauna since WW2. If they have to kill all to get one then so be it! Scorched earth of their own making.

pileus

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2017, 09:19:08 PM »
Small creatures like this are always on the knife's edge of existence, but this one never really had a chance given its geographic range and the multitude of local threats.

Florida's most endangered butterfly may not have survived Hurricane Irma

http://www.placead.tampabay.com/news/environment/wildlife/floridas-most-endangered-butterfly-may-not-have-survived-hurricane-irma/2342661


TerryM

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2017, 09:43:13 PM »
In the 1950's I could go to our property line, clap my hands loudly over a vast field of milkweed, and watch the sky darkened as the Monarch butterflies arose in mass.
A few years ago a butterfly count in the same area found less than triple digits of Monarchs for the season.
They're planting milkweed on a slope a mile or so away in an effort to bring the butterflies back, but the results have been disappointing.
Terry

Shared Humanity

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2017, 09:51:26 PM »
We have killed all the megafauna, and now our carelessness is killing the microfauna. Not even necessarily through malice, but through careless inattention, and that is an obscenity.

sidd
Sidd I don't think it was through careless inattention. The big guys (monsanto,gargill etc.) and those before them have been actively seeking poisons to wipe out the microfauna since WW2. If they have to kill all to get one then so be it! Scorched earth of their own making.

And the forecast for the killing insect business is rosy as the range for insects spreads north due to global warming. Rollins, Inc. which holds Orkin as a wholly owned subsidiary is forecasting double digit growth in the business and their stock has been on a steady climb for a decade.

Poisoning shit is big business and getting bigger.

pileus

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2017, 10:32:19 PM »
In the 1950's I could go to our property line, clap my hands loudly over a vast field of milkweed, and watch the sky darkened as the Monarch butterflies arose in mass.
A few years ago a butterfly count in the same area found less than triple digits of Monarchs for the season.
They're planting milkweed on a slope a mile or so away in an effort to bring the butterflies back, but the results have been disappointing.
Terry

As a kid in the 70s I remember early summer drives through rural Maryland and Pennsylvania at dusk, and being amazed at the thick swarms of fireflies lighting up the farmland and fields.  It was magical. Took the same drive a few years ago and didn't see evidence of even one.

TerryM

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2017, 11:15:28 PM »
In the 1950's I could go to our property line, clap my hands loudly over a vast field of milkweed, and watch the sky darkened as the Monarch butterflies arose in mass.
A few years ago a butterfly count in the same area found less than triple digits of Monarchs for the season.
They're planting milkweed on a slope a mile or so away in an effort to bring the butterflies back, but the results have been disappointing.
Terry

As a kid in the 70s I remember early summer drives through rural Maryland and Pennsylvania at dusk, and being amazed at the thick swarms of fireflies lighting up the farmland and fields.  It was magical. Took the same drive a few years ago and didn't see evidence of even one.


Now that you mention it, I've not seen one firefly since returning to Ontario in 2004.


Slightly OT, but does anyone know what happened to the huge flocks of starlings that were such a problem in the 50's?
Terry

pileus

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2017, 01:27:38 AM »
There are plenty of topics about humans persisting and surviving the deepening climate crisis, but what kind of world is worth living in that has lost much of its mega and microfauna, and is dominated by AI, rats, coackroaches, and jellyfish? Maybe a bit hyperbolic as spiders and ants have quite the net biomass, but it's really hard to see the appeal of Earth without all the other creatures, large and small.  It's ironic that we'll someday be wistful for what many long considered pests.  Part of the answer I suppose is that future generations born into the new Earth system only know what they know.  They will look at pictures of animals and insects and fish like we look at pictures of dinosaurs, as they enjoy their three square of soylent.

sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2017, 02:46:28 AM »
Re: starlings and bagworms and fireflies

Still see em in OH and PA. Noisy as hell, but they eat the bagworms ...

fireflies are still about in those states too, not as many though, and mostly away from the cities.

sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2017, 11:23:01 AM »
Just casual observation but working and playing outside most of my life the lack of insects is not lost on me. I've often wondered about mass use of pesticides on the fauna that feeds on these little creatures. Living a fair distance from anything that resembles big agriculture and yet having noticed a large enough drop in blackly and mosquito populations that I haven't had to use any repellent in the past five or six years. Yes there are some biters out there but not enough to make me use products containing deet. Over the last two years I've noticed a decline in the year round bird populations. The past couple of winters while hiking in my local forest it has become difficult to find any winter birds at all on some days! It got me thinking about mortality of wild song birds. From what I found the life expectancy of song birds in the wild is five to eight years with the survival rate of young at 50% or less in abundant conditions. Could this be related to a lack of food supply on which to raise the chicks? Not enough to get them up to adulthood before winter sets in? After a few years of low replacement numbers of adult birds the decline would start to show up? Just like the human population if you lose the food supply the overall numbers go down after an appropriate amount of time has past. Could be I'm wrong and I sincerely hope so. Anyone out there noticing anything similar. I know migratory song birds have been on a steady decline for decades now but the year round residents?!   

Shared Humanity

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2017, 03:33:57 PM »
In the west suburbs of Chicago, most bird populations were decimated in 2002 by West Nile. I spent the entire summer picking up dead birds in my yard, yellow and house finches, cardinals, sparrows etc. As an organic gardener, it was one of the saddest summers of my life.The populations have never fully recovered.

Forest Dweller

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2017, 10:22:57 PM »
So unsurprising....

The decline is said to be related to both climate change and pesticides.
I'll not discuss the climate aspect but already "pesticides"is the wrong terminology and falls short.
It's pesticides, herbicides and all kinds of chemical or industrial pollution deliberate or not which play a part in all life.

It is the same limited thinking surrounding the most famous "weed killer interview" where lobbyist Patrick Moore refuses to drink some even though he claims glyphosate is 100% safe to drink.
He knows he would have gone straight to intensive care of course because as he has just explained 20 or so heavier systemic poisons are added to that crap.
Glyphosate is just the most harmless one and while we don't even know the other ingredients most idiots just keep discussing how safe glyphosate is.
Nobody sprays just glyphosate anywhere.
They spray cocktails which we know are always more harmful and that is why during my wildlife research i can see where they use it the mice or voles just sitting around in a daze or even climbing on my shoes to die on the spot.

Of course insects will die.
They are subjected to many other cocktails and poisons on top of that, and various other forms of pollution AND climate change all at once.
All are the result of industrial society, that is what it is and what it does.
The greatest destructive force ever on Earth.

Have people lost their frigging minds???
Chemical industry has done nothing since it's beginning but leave behind it a trail of millions of dead and sick creatures including us, while reaping the profits going from one product to the next before it can be banned.
Chemical industry should be closed down immediately if not all industry.

Here i see elderly people growing food or children playing sports next to the highway with the most polluted air in Europe, on fake grass filled in with poisonous ground up car tires while around them everything is sprayed and poisoned as well.
People say that is a healthy activity for kids or the elderly, while the increase in health problems and epidemics is dealt with by pharmaceuticals from the chemical industry as well.
And of course add more problems while the profits are reaped before those can be banned and replaced by the next "medicine" as well.
Of course the elderly gardeners add their own poisons to their already toxic crops...
Yes people have lost their frigging minds.

Even DDT still reaches us in spite of it being banned long ago.
Hey, we still have the factories here and happily export it to Africa so of course there is an illegal circuit and the rest comes through food imports etc.
They test plants in garden centers here and find 17 poisons on just 1 plant, half of them illegal...

We are a chemical experiment involving hundreds or more substances and we already don't care about our own health or that of our kids and pets.
So of course insects are gonna die.
Insects will not be the only ones either.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 11:01:44 PM by Forest Dweller »

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2017, 03:32:03 PM »
THE UK ACTUALLY DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR ONCE?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/09/uk-will-back-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides-michael-gove-reveals

"The UK will back a total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has revealed.

The decision reverses the government’s previous position and is justified by recent new evidence showing neonicotinoids have contaminated the whole landscape and cause damage to colonies of bees. It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, a discovery Gove said had shocked him.

Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticide but in 2013 the European Union banned their use on flowering crops, although the UK was among the nations opposing the ban. The European commission now wants a total ban on their use outside of greenhouses, with a vote expected in December, and the UK’s new position makes it very likely to pass."
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2017, 04:08:16 PM »
From the Renewable Energy thread.  An acknowledgement of the problem, and steps to help address it.

How solar-energy sites can provide habitat for our Minnesota monarchs
When you see a facility blooming with native plants, it's helping the birds and butterflies.
Quote
This month — while the monarchs are gathering in their overwintering groves in the mountains of Mexico — Carver County, Ramsey and Blaine are considering proposals to use private funds to create more than 90 acres of high-quality habitat for monarchs and other pollinators over seven sites. The proposals, like others, are financed by the solar panels that sit above the diverse mix of deep-rooted plants. Once complete, these sites will provide habitat equivalent to more than 54,000 homes each planting and maintaining 6- by 12-foot pollinator gardens.
http://www.startribune.com/how-solar-energy-sites-can-provide-habitat-for-our-minnesota-monarchs/456220783/
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Csnavywx

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2017, 05:33:30 PM »
A bit of an anecdotal story:

My father stopped using most pesticides and herbicides on his farm -- going back to using fallow rotational periods and planting green manure crops where he did need to restore nutrients. The effect has been drastic. A marked increase in insect and plant diversity returned over a 10-15 year period. One of those that recovered was fireflies. So many, in fact, that there was an explosion of them a couple of years ago. A "firefly flurry", I believe they're called. Huge quantities of them covered the trees and air at night, causing the entire forest to glitter. I'd never seen anything like it, even as a kid.

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2017, 12:53:32 PM »
It seems as if the world's favorite pesticide is damaging a lot more than insect populations.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/29/common-pesticide-can-make-migrating-birds-lose-their-way-research-shows

The experimental study is the first to directly show harm to songbirds, extending the known impacts of neonicotinoids beyond insects.


Another "Silent Spring" ?
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gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2017, 03:41:41 PM »
If the pesticides don't get you, the fungicides will.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/29/alarming-link-between-fungicides-and-bee-declines-revealed

Quote
Alarming link between fungicides and bee declines revealed
Fungicides are found to be the strongest factor linked to steep bumblebee declines, surprising scientists and adding to the threats to vital pollinators

This is sort of science Trump and his not very merry men are trying to kill.
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Sebastian Jones

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2017, 06:05:52 PM »
If the pesticides don't get you, the fungicides will.

Who would have guessed that poisons are poisonous?

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2018, 08:27:47 PM »
According to this study:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas - Germany.

Notable highlights from the study:
"Our results demonstrate that recently reported declines in several taxa such as butterflies [7, 25–27, 58], wild bees [8–14] and moths [15–18], are in parallel with a severe loss of total aerial insect biomass, suggesting that it is not only the vulnerable species, but the flying insect community as a whole, that has been decimated over the last few decades. The estimated decline is considerably more severe than the only comparable long term study on flying insect biomass elsewhere [28]."


Anecdotally, anyone who lives in the northern hemisphere can tell you that when driving there are FAR FEWER insects splatting on the windshields compared to just 10 or 20 years ago.  I've personally noticed a dramatic decline in insect population in the Northeast US in just 10 years.  It seems likely (although I don't have any data so this is an anecdotal claim) that across the entire northern hemisphere insect populations have declined by this same 75% level. 

The important take home consequences of this study (i.e., my thoughts):

1.  There are no pesticides being used in the reserves in which this study was carried out, therefore it's almost certain that the cause is somehow related to other factors, i.e., exponential temperature rise.  I personally live in an area with zero agriculture, and have noticed a dramatic decrease in insect densities as well.

2.  Insects have existed on this planet far, far longer than primates.  If insects cannot survive a 1.5C rise in global average temperature (above the 1750/1850 pre industrial baseline), it's difficult to imagine primates surviving much longer.  Especially considering that primates require insects to survive.

3.  Insects represent the foundation of the food-chain for all northern hemisphere biomes, with a 75% decline, it's likely that over the next several years die offs in many of the major larger terrestrial vertebrates will take place at a similar clip. 

We're only at 1.5C above pre industrial baseline as of 2018.  75% decline in the biomass of any population of animals on the planet is extreme, especially considering that it's across all families, genus and species of insects, not just a single group.  It appears as if the insect organisms cannot keep up with the exponential rise in global average temperature in the northern hemisphere.  Insects are ectothermic invertebrates, which means that they are particularly well adapted to (but also sensitive to) variations in temperature.  If an ectothermic invertebrate can't keep up with climate change, its difficult to imagine that endothermic vertebrates like mammals will survive.

This appears to be the prelude to an extinction level event that is unprecedented since the Permian mass extinction.

The insects are the canary in the terrestrial coal mine (similarly, Coral reefs are the canary in the oceanic coal mine), so to speak - mammals (i.e., humans), reptiles, amphibians, and birds are next.
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icefisher

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2018, 03:46:11 AM »
SH, I live in the east suburbs of St. Louis.  The bee populations in my yard have vanished, Monarchs likewise.  Wasps, however are alive and well.  My wife and I loved to watch hummingbirds.  Several used to return year after year.  This past summer - no hummingbirds.  We are both alarmed.  Cardinal numbers are dwindling. Sparrows, wrens and nuthatches also putting in fewer and fewer appearances.  Starlings are numerous, as are blackbirds, crows, owls, hawks and geese.  Geese are just about everywhere and live year round.   

Sebastian Jones

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2018, 06:49:29 PM »

According to this study:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas - Germany.



 (i.e., my thoughts):


  It appears as if the insect organisms cannot keep up with the exponential rise in global average temperature in the northern hemisphere.  ......

This appears to be the prelude to an extinction level event that is unprecedented since the Permian mass extinction.

The insects are the canary in the terrestrial coal mine 

With respect, there is no evidence that the rise in global temperature is the prime cause of the insect biomass decline, there is considerable evidence that changes in agricultural and land use practices do have a sufficient effect. The change to mono-cultures and heavy pesticide use associated with the adoption of GMOs are the most likely culprits. This is not to say that climate warming is not serious!

harpy

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2018, 02:11:31 AM »
The area in the study is not influenced by agriculture directly, so pesticides and fragmentation are likely not the issue.  In the study it indicates that the land was ALREADY fragmented prior to the study, so that effect in a sense has no impact - it was an outside factor.

Another issue with your post is that you're discounting the numerous and at this point almost innumerable anecdotal observations from all over the northern hemisphere that insect populations are plummeting.  In the area where I live, there are ZERO pesticides and almost no fragmentation issues.  Insect populations here are sometimes non existent.

Pesticide use has no impact on the area where I live - the only factor is temperature, and temperatures here have been DRAMATICALLY warmer over the past 10 years.

Warm winter temperatures mess up the timing of insect hatches, and this causes premature death.  Moreover, insects metabolism increases with increased temperature, if theres nothing for them to eat when they hatch prematurely in March, instead of when they are supposed to hatch in June - they all die.

This is the crux of the problem for insects - their timing is all screwed up, and many of them are hatching and dying before they can eat and/or mate.  If insects hatch in January during a 69 degree night, they all die - especially if temps drop back down- that's a problem.  No trees have leaves on them when these insects hatch - theres no flowers, no food in February and March , they all die and there's no replacement for them.  This is happening to all insects all over the northern hemisphere every year we get these absurdly high temperatures in winter months.

I think that many folks seem to misunderstand just how fragile animals are.  You cannot simply suddenly increase winter temperatures in a 10 year time frame and expect animals to be able to cope.  70 degree days in February (as is going to happen in the northeast US in the next week) has profound and disastrous consequences for the natural environment that we simply haven't studied yet.  And the changes are happening so rapidly that it's very difficult to study them.  We;re lucky to even have this one study from Germany.  It represents a snapshot of the catastrophe that is unfolding in the northern hemisphere.

The last time that temperatures rose even close to as fast as they are now was the permian mass extinction.  Temperatures are rising much quicker now than during the permian.  90% of species died during that extinction event, and it took tens of thousands of years. What we're doing to the planet right now is taking the permian mass extinction and pushing down the accelerator even faster.  The only event that I can think of that altered global average temperatures this quickly was the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, and 70% of all species died.  That was an asteroid, with aerosols that fell out of the sky in a relatively quick fashion (geologically speaking) - the effects of atmospheric CO2 will not be quick.  It's hard to imagine anything less than a KT extinction level event from current CO2 emissions and positive feedbacks.  In such an event, anything larger than a medium sized rat will likely go extinct.

In short, insects are just the start.  Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are next.  Many have already started to die off in their natural environments en masse, independent of human fragmentation and habitat loss factors.

« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 02:33:56 AM by harpy »

Sigmetnow

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2018, 06:03:11 PM »
Insect population decline leaves Australian scientists scratching for solutions
Quote
A global crash in insect populations has found its way to Australia, with entomologists across the country reporting lower than average numbers of wild insects.
University of Sydney entomologist Dr Cameron Webb said researchers around the world widely acknowledge that insect populations are in decline, but are at a loss to determine the cause.
"On one hand it might be the widespread use of insecticides, on the other hand it might be urbanisation and the fact that we're eliminating some of the plants where it's really critical that these insects complete their development," Dr Webb said.
"Add in to the mix climate change and sea level rise and it's incredibly difficult to predict exactly what it is." ...
http://amp.abc.net.au/article/9481136
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ivica

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #33 on: March 09, 2018, 08:45:16 AM »
Europe’s beetle species plummet as trees disappear

"A new report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) finds nearly 18 percent of saproxylic beetles are threatened with extinction in Europe. That number goes up to almost 22 percent for the EU as a whole."

"Of Europe’s threatened species, the 2018 report finds five are critically endangered, up from two in 2010."

"Why are these beetles declining? According to the IUCN, it’s because Europe’s trees are disappearing."
Logging, wood harvesting, urbanization, tourism development and an increasing frequency in wildfires...

johnm33

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #34 on: March 09, 2018, 12:06:35 PM »
The effects of pesticides seem to be increasingly affecting our own species, I'm noticing an increasing number of babies being born with niggling little defects, worst cases are 'children without diagnosis'. If these toxins designed for other species are affecting our gestation, as I suspect, how much worse is it for those genetically closer to the target. Has anyone studied larval dysfunction or mis-metamorphosis?
 Since the use of pesticides to facillitate drying 'in the field' I've noticed feeling slightly poisoned [reminds me of working in a house after it's been sprayed with woodworm/dry rot killer] when eating certain foods.

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #35 on: March 21, 2018, 10:39:17 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/21/catastrophe-as-frances-bird-population-collapses-due-to-pesticides

'Catastrophe' as France's bird population collapses due to pesticides

Dozens of species have seen their numbers decline, in some cases by two-thirds, because insects they feed on have disappeared

Quote
Bird populations across the French countryside have fallen by a third over the last decade and a half, researchers have said.

Dozens of species have seen their numbers decline, in some cases by two-thirds, the scientists said in a pair of studies – one national in scope and the other covering a large agricultural region in central France.

“The situation is catastrophic,” said Benoit Fontaine, a conservation biologist at France’s National Museum of Natural History and co-author of one of the studies. “Our countryside is in the process of becoming a veritable desert,” he said in a communique released by the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), which also contributed to the findings.

The common white throat, the ortolan bunting, the Eurasian skylark and other once-ubiquitous species have all fallen off by at least a third, according a detailed, annual census initiated at the start of the century. A migratory song bird, the meadow pipit, has declined by nearly 70%.

The museum described the pace and extent of the wipe-out as “a level approaching an ecological catastrophe”. The primary culprit, researchers speculate, is the intensive use of pesticides on vast tracts of monoculture crops, especially wheat and corn.

The problem is not that birds are being poisoned, but that the insects on which they depend for food have disappeared.

There are hardly any insects left, that’s the number one problem,” said Vincent Bretagnolle, a CNRS ecologist at the Centre for Biological Studies in Chize. Recent research, he noted, has uncovered similar trends across Europe, estimating that flying insects have declined by 80%, and bird populations has dropped by more than 400m in 30 years.

Despite a government plan to cut pesticide use in half by 2020, sales in France have climbed steadily, reaching more than 75,000 tonnes of active ingredient in 2014, according to European Union figures.
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Sebastian Jones

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #36 on: March 21, 2018, 04:52:53 PM »


'Catastrophe' as France's bird population collapses due to pesticides


The main causes are switching to mono cropping, the cessation of the practice of fallowing and the ever increasing use of pesticides. It is hard to exaggerate the seriousness of these trends- and it is not just France. These practices are widespread and are actively promoted around the world. It is not arctic ice, but it is as important, albeit differently.

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2018, 12:07:45 PM »
One can hope that it is not too late to implement this sort of policy.

EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides
The world’s most widely used insecticides will be banned from all fields within six months, to protect both wild and honeybees that are vital to crop pollination


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/27/eu-agrees-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides

So the multi-national chemical companies do not win everywhere, every time?
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Coffee Drinker

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2018, 12:57:06 AM »
Good news. Never understood how it can be not catastrophic to spray the whole landscape each year with pesticides.

Still remember driving on the autobahn in the 80s. The windscreen was pretty much always covered in insect after a few hours. Now its largely clean.

But then I wonder what is the "normal" insect population? In the 1980s, we had severe issues with water pollution, acid rain and poor air quality. So its not like the 80s were cleaner or "better" than today.

I always try to think what else could be the cause of insect demise. For this you have to think like an insect and know what they like. Many insect species need water without fish. I know many of the rivers and lakes got much cleaner and now have healthy fish populations again. Not sure if this has an influence as well. Maybe insects loved the polluted water and had highly "inflated" populations?

gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2018, 03:34:43 PM »
You might think the quote is about the swift. Wait small.

Swifts' only food is flying insects- if there are less swifts then it is because there are less insects.

The cause is not AGW - the warmer it is the more insects we see in the UK.

It is pesticides and herbicides by farmers and gardeners.

Those who think fixing CO2 emissions means 'job done' are in for an unpleasant surprise

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/11/chris-packham-springwatch-warns-of-ecological-apocalypse-britain

Chris Packham warns of 'ecological apocalypse' in Britain
Springwatch presenter says Britain is increasingly ‘a green and unpleasant land’


Quote
Birdwatchers have noticed the skies are particularly lacking swifts this year, a summer migrant that is declining at an increasing rate – 51% over 20 years but 25% in the five years to 2015. Swifts are usually seen in 38% of the bird sightings logged with the British Trust for Ornithology in early June. This year they account for just 31%.
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gerontocrat

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2018, 06:12:26 PM »
Britain's insects in catastrophic decline
If it is happening here, one can assume it is the same just about everywhere in the OECD countries.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/17/where-have-insects-gone-climate-change-population-decline

just one quote

Quote
Our creepy crawlies may have unsettling looks but they lie at the foot of a wildlife food chain that makes them vitally important to the makeup and nature of the countryside. They are “the little things that run the world” according to the distinguished Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson, who once observed: “If all humankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”
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queenie

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #41 on: June 18, 2018, 10:06:03 PM »
As a farmer, when I first read the article on insect decline last fall, it rocked me to the core. Scared me even more than the scariest climate change scenarios. It also rang true. We work to attract beneficial insects and it seems to get harder each year even as we have more host plants. We are, like most organic farms, surrounded by conventional farms. We farm apples and the standard budget for apple orchards, prepared by the very good ag program at the university nearby, calls for 14 rounds of spray each year. 10 of those are insecticide or fungicide. We're organic but even we have to deal with the coddling moths, which lay eggs that hatch into worms in apples. We use a virus that only kills the coddling moth but even that I ask myself - how am I contributing to this terrible problem? Achieving a balance where birds and predatory insects eat enough of the moths to have the worms stay at an acceptable level is kind of a fantasy. In our world there is no acceptable level of worms in apples. We sell mostly direct so there is a little forgiveness but if we were bigger and shipped apple there would be none.

We're a big berry growing area and those ship internationally. A certain fruit fly has become a problem here and there is zero tolerance for them. What does this mean? Blueberries, especially late season ones, are often insecticide sprayed every three days. I know conventional growers that won't eat their own berries because of the level of poisons on them.

I've no doubt that agriculture is largely responsible for insect decline. That said, consumers play a significant role here too. If you expect perfect produce know that the environmental cost of that is huge. I've had people tell me they won't buy organic produce because only chemically treated produce can leave them assured they won't encounter a bug. I doubt that much of the public would say they prefer chemicals to insects if you asked them. That said, almost all of them will chose the most perfect apple in the bin.


sidd

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #42 on: June 18, 2018, 10:48:19 PM »
I know some pennsylvania apple farmers. They get mad at anyone who doesnt spray, claim that they see more damage on their own trees if a neighbour dont spray. This led to considerable ill will. Now a lot of them are tipping the tress over, hauling em off and converting to corn/soy rotation. Sad. Some of those farms had been there for generations.

sidd

Martin Gisser

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2018, 12:10:18 AM »
So what about apple tree pollinators? Do these stupid apple chemico-farmers haul in stupid bees (Apis mellifera) in stupid boxes with stupid Varroa mite problems? And what about those fucking vitamins that compel heedful City Homo Sapiens to eat those immaculate apples? Some rational economic thinkers might see the ridicu-lousiness of such "conventional farming" practices...

At least the American chemico-farmers can rotate corn and soy, unlike Barvarian farm bankrupters (Raubbauern). Apple wood is nice fire wood.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 12:20:22 AM by Martin Gisser »
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jai mitchell

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2018, 12:19:22 AM »
All of my fruit trees blossomed in mid february and then a cold snap ensued no fruit, no flies, barely any bees.  only 3 swallows in the awnings (usually more than 20)  It is about flowers and food, caterpillars for the birds etc. . .
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queenie

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2018, 01:34:54 AM »
So what about apple tree pollinators? Do these stupid apple chemico-farmers haul in stupid bees (Apis mellifera) in stupid boxes with stupid Varroa mite problems? And what about those fucking vitamins that compel heedful City Homo Sapiens to eat those immaculate apples?

Yes, most farms that grow anything requiring insect pollination rent bees. Beekeepers vary widely in how healthy their bees are, how much medication they use and the type of farms they will willingly rent their bees to. This year we got lucky. We got a bunch of mason bees and we found a local beekeeper who is small scale and focused on bee health not honey production for our honeybees. His hives have, thus far, been free of mites. He only puts his bees on organic farms. I think they went to an organic clover crop after us. We hope to have enough food for pollinators throughout the year and so not need rented bees soon. We're down to using about 1/4th of what is recommended and got good pollination but it still felt like we needed them.

The crop the beekeepers I know really complain about is California almonds. They need almost every hive in the country but only for a month. Many of the almond farmers spray while the bees are there and it's such a dense monoculture of almonds that it's not a great food source for the bees. Of course, the pay is good and many beekeepers depend on it.


queenie

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #46 on: June 19, 2018, 01:42:37 AM »
All of my fruit trees blossomed in mid february and then a cold snap ensued no fruit, no flies, barely any bees. 

That is one of the big dangers of climate change and fruit production. We grow over 100 varieties of apples and our bloom stretches out over a couple of months since some bloom early and some late. Thus, biodiversity means we'll likely get some apples even when spring is highly unpredictable. A few heirloom varieties have long blooms even within them. Gravensteins and Bramley's Seedling will have late blooms while they have ping pong ball size fruits. I suspect with them if the first round froze out you'd still have a fair number of fine dormant buds yet to bloom.

Of course, varieties that bloom over a long span are a nightmare for orchards as they ripen over a long period and thus are terribly inefficient to harvest. In other words, the fruit will cost more to grow. Better costlier apples than none at all though.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #47 on: June 19, 2018, 03:08:17 AM »
Jai, The swallows like to nest in the awnings on my house also . I anticipate their arrival around March 15 every year. When I see the first a arrivals I make and maintain a mud puddle by the horse trough so they will have some mud to harvest. Some years I have swallows harvesting mud and flying off to other farmhouses to nest. Having a few dozen swallows around helps keep some insects in check. When fall arrives and the fledglings get their wings and return south ,with their parents ,I always notice more cabbage moths in the garden. 
 We also have phoebes that are resident and also are insectivores. The bird population doesn't seem too bad around here but it is very evident there just Aren't as many bugs splattered on the windshield as when I was younger. I know there are terrible insecticides in use , chlorpyrifos renders many local watersheds devoid of insect life. EPA was supposed to ban the stuff but Obama lagged and Trump
/ Pruit totally overrode any regulations to get rid of the crap. Dow got their Campaign payback early. 

https://www.factcheck.org/2017/04/the-facts-on-chlorpyrifos/



 
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 03:18:51 AM by Bruce Steele »

Csnavywx

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #48 on: June 19, 2018, 09:29:26 AM »
As a farmer, when I first read the article on insect decline last fall, it rocked me to the core. Scared me even more than the scariest climate change scenarios. It also rang true. We work to attract beneficial insects and it seems to get harder each year even as we have more host plants. We are, like most organic farms, surrounded by conventional farms. We farm apples and the standard budget for apple orchards, prepared by the very good ag program at the university nearby, calls for 14 rounds of spray each year. 10 of those are insecticide or fungicide. We're organic but even we have to deal with the coddling moths, which lay eggs that hatch into worms in apples. We use a virus that only kills the coddling moth but even that I ask myself - how am I contributing to this terrible problem? Achieving a balance where birds and predatory insects eat enough of the moths to have the worms stay at an acceptable level is kind of a fantasy. In our world there is no acceptable level of worms in apples. We sell mostly direct so there is a little forgiveness but if we were bigger and shipped apple there would be none.

We're a big berry growing area and those ship internationally. A certain fruit fly has become a problem here and there is zero tolerance for them. What does this mean? Blueberries, especially late season ones, are often insecticide sprayed every three days. I know conventional growers that won't eat their own berries because of the level of poisons on them.

I've no doubt that agriculture is largely responsible for insect decline. That said, consumers play a significant role here too. If you expect perfect produce know that the environmental cost of that is huge. I've had people tell me they won't buy organic produce because only chemically treated produce can leave them assured they won't encounter a bug. I doubt that much of the public would say they prefer chemicals to insects if you asked them. That said, almost all of them will chose the most perfect apple in the bin.

Spotted wind drosophila is the fruit fly you speak of. I have had a nasty intimate experience with them. They're invasive and will attack ripening fruit and it basically destroys a crop rapidly. Between them and the Japanese beetles, it's nigh impossible to have a raspberry, blackberry or blueberry crop without some sort of spray to keep them off. There aren't many natural counters to them either and none that can counter an infestation that's already established.

dnem

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Re: Decline in insect populations
« Reply #49 on: June 29, 2018, 05:05:19 PM »
I wish I had some actual data to compare, but I went out last night at about 11 pm in my yard in my low density, verdant part of Baltimore, MD.  It was a warm summer night, still close to 80 deg (~27 C).  It was eerily quiet.  Not a katydid or cricket to be heard.  Good amount of fireflies, though.