Lucas's Blue butterfly

"Miami blue" butterfly (via)

 

Birds, bees, butterflies... Most of us are well aware of their rapidly dwindling numbers on earth. But there are millions of other insect species essential to the food chain whose populations are in serious danger. 

Conservationists are calling it the "unnoticed insect apocalypse," and warn that if the world doesn't take notice and act now, there will be profound consequences to all forms of life. While governments and big corporations say they need more studies, there isn't time for them. We are facing danger now!

Insects are fundamental to the food chain. They aerate the soil, carry food to plant roots, pollinate blossoms, and control pests that are harmful to plants. For example, a big dipper firefly feeds on destructive earthworms, slugs and snails. Garden spiders, dragon flies, and certain wasps feed on harmful insects and droppings from other insects and plant pests. Some insects, like beetles, feed on dead animals and fallen trees, recycling the material back into the soil. (source)

And... 80 percent of the world's population depends on insects as one of their main sources of food! (source)

 

Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana)

Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineanavia

 

A comprehensive review of 73 historical reports published in the February 2019 journal of Biological Conservation, estimated that more than 40 percent of insect species are threatened with extinction now. This includes land and water species of insects. No surprise, the cause of their demise is man-made, including:

  • Human habitat changes
     
  • Deforestation
     
  • Decline of small family farms
     
  • Draining of wetlands and swamps
     
  • Insecticides
     
  • Extreme weather causing fires and floods
     
  • Other causes related to climate change

 

American Burying Beetle

American Burying Beetle restores nurishment to the earth (US Fish & Wildlife Services)

 

According to Endangered Species Internationalthis is what all of us can do now:

  • Avoid plants that need a lot of fertilizers and water.

  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers. 

  • Do not buy flowers that have “double” blooms; insects cannot access their nectar because their mouthparts are not adapted to do so.

  • Avoid using “bug zappers” because they are very damaging to insect diversity including all beneficial insects and they usually fail to attract mosquitoes.

  • Do not use pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Organic fertilizers (e.g., manure, compost from kitchen) favor insects. Check Beyond Pesticides for the least toxic control of pests in your home. 

  • Leave areas with natural ground covers (e.g., leaves) in your backyard. 

  • Buy organic cotton clothes, sheets, and towels. Conventional cotton uses an enormous quantity of pesticide with significant negative impacts on insects.

These are really simple things we can all do.  Let's do them!

 

Sources: PBSEndangered Species InternationalThe Guardian (1), The Guardian (2), Science DirectNational Geographic, via CNET

 

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