I would like to thank Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo for his Tuesday word prompt, crawl. It allows me to post about something near and dear to my heart. Yes, I know. Everything is near and dear to my heart, but that can’t be a bad thing surely? You have probably all seen the news this week about a recent insect study review. The review found that insect numbers have plummeted, experiencing a 2.5% loss per year. Now one can argue about the rate of decline, whether it can be applied uniformly across the globe and to all insects, but one thing is clear, our insect population is in trouble.
The study attributed the decline in insect numbers mainly to intensive agriculture and associated pesticide use, but also acknowledged the problem is likely to be multi-faceted. Scientists also suspect climate change and human impact (such as habitat loss) is contributing to the decline of insect populations. More research needs to be done. I imagine that there are many feedback loops that we can’t yet anticipate or measure and that the rate of insect decline will accelerate rapidly in coming years as the drivers of change overlap. I am cognisant that there is a paucity of insect studies, but there is sufficient evidence now on adverse impacts on agricultural productivity from collapsing populations of beneficial pollinating insects, not to mention concerns about insecticide use for human health, for us to be worried. I think it is fair that we question the existing data, but we should also be investing in addressing the information gaps. We should be equally skeptical of claims made by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. In her book, Silent Spring (1962), Rachel Carson wrote:
“When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.”
There is a lot that we can do. Money talks. We can buy from growers that have adopted sustainable agricultural practices (ie. no insecticide). We can advocate for increased public research funding into human impact on insects. We can protect natural habitats and incorporate them into agriculture farmland, and we can eliminate insecticide use in our own gardens. I use no insecticide (not even organic pesticides). It is tough; my yields aren’t huge. But we get enough relative to the small number of plants we grow. Zucchini anyone?
Anyway, enough lecturing; this post is meant to be about the photos. I thank my family for photos they took of the insects of the alpine and sub-alpine areas of Australia.
I’m in love with the alpine metallic cockroach (Polyzosteria viridissima).
And the mountain katydid (Acripeza reticulate). At ease, if you please.
Now that is alarming (literally).
Something has outgrown its skin.
Could it be a Southern Pyrgomorph (Monistria concinna)?
No idea what this one is. But it is so cute, don’t you think?
The crane fly (with vanilla lily in the background) is quite spectacular and human friendly. It doesn’t suck blood, sting or bite.
Even flies pollinate. This lovely native greenhood orchid doesn’t mind.
Technically not an insect but an arachnid, this lovely enamel spider glints in the sun.
Now if there are any Aussies who live in alpine regions reading this, can you please let me know whether the bogong moths have arrived this year? I have seen none pass through Canberra on their 1000 km migration to the Australian Alps and I am a little worried that there will be too few this year for the mountain pygmy possums who rely on moth protein to fatten up for the winter hibernation.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
See here for a media report on the review.