Are all the insects disappearing?
Are all the insects disappearing?
My grandfather had an orchard of about 13 apple trees behind his house, and when I was a boy one of the jobs that fell to me was the apple picking.
Back then each summer there was masses of wasps, they would come for the sweet apples. Although I loved climbing the trees and the apples I didn’t always love being so close to the wasps.
Fast forward 30 years and there are a lot less wasps, in fact there not only seems to be a lot less of all our flying insect friends, there actually is less, and a recent study has shown that insect populations have fallen by 80%! Click here for reference.
We hear a lot about the bees, the bees are in trouble and in no small part due to the systemic use of the neonicotinoid insecticides. Our good friends at the large agrichemical companies ensured us these chemicals were safe for the bees, and of course that turned out to be complete nonsense. There is no refuting the evidence now that these chemicals have been instrumental in the collapse of bee populations world-wide. Here is a recent article in the New Scentist covering the topic.
But this is a well publicised fact, what isn’t so well known is that it is not only the bees that are in trouble but the greater insect population is also in steep decline. Do you notice that you don’t need to clean the windscreen of your car anymore, that there seems to be a lot less splattering? Well it isn’t coincidental. Insects are disappearing at an alarming rate, this is bad news. Click here for a an article published by Yale university
There may be many reasons for this, but chemical use in agriculture and vast tracks of land being lost to conventional monocultures, creating biological deserts are certainly large contributing factors.
It really isn’t surprising that these insecticides are responsible, they are toxic and non-selective they kill the pests but also many of the beneficial insects. They are sprayed to eradicate green fly, but in the medium to long term the aphids become more prolific. The reason: The chemicals kill all the aphid predators, then the aphids who have a high reproductive rate develop resistance to the chemicals, which leads to increased aphid populations and no natural predators to keep them in check.
The bright light in all of this is our awareness, the understanding that our food choices can be a massive vehicle for change, the food we eat can be a tonic for our bodies and our planet.
A comprehensive analysis of 66 scientific studies have shown that organically farmed areas have on average 30 percent more species and 50 percent more individuals than non-organic areas. Organic farms are richer in biodiversity, they have more plants and more food for insects, and as a result more birds and more wildlife, insects are a crucial part of a very complex ecosystem, without them the chain collapses. Click here to read the report
On our own farm you just have to walk around to know that this is true, our wild flower strips, our traditional wild hedges, our un trimmed field borders, the weeds that are in our fields, the 3000 tree forest and the other 1.5 acres of wild areas encourage biodiversity. These elements provide a rich tapestry of life that helps keep our farm in balance and contribute to producing the best organic food possible.
Insects are important they are a massive food source for birds and creatures further up the chain.
Even our much maligned wasp has its function it scavenges dead insects and food and in its own way is a tidy up machine.
Here’s to better food choices.
PS I asked Andy one of our Galway drivers if he has noticed the change in insects on the windscreen and yes he has, but Andy keeps the van very clean anyway (See picture above, and Molly our dog agrees too!