Where have all the bugs gone?
Where have all the bugs gone? It seems that we are losing our bugs.
There is one bug that we monitor closely: honey bees. This is because there are many beekeepers who have their bees in wooden boxes. It has been in the news quite a bit lately that the honey bee population is declining, and how important they are to pollinating many of our crops. There are very few wild bee colonies left.
Some years back, bees were decimated by a mite that lived in the bees tracheal (breathing) tubes. You cannot see them with the naked eye, but they are like ticks on us. Then came the varroa mite. These parasites were big enough to see, but there were so many that they played havoc with the bees. Beekeepers treated the bees by various methods to try to control the mites, but they took their toll.
Bees are also susceptible to various viruses and bacteria.
Now we are finding out that there are many pesticides that kill or disrupt the life of bees.
But, as you can see, we keep track of the bees because they provide pollination, and we get things from the bees like honey, pollen and propolis. We do not keep tabs on many other insects. It just seems likely that if the bees are having trouble, many other insects are as well.
A check of the vehicles parked at the local big box store reveals that there are very few bugs on the fronts of the cars. It may that the cars’ aerodynamic designs result in fewer bugs hitting the vehicles. But since most cars have water-cooled engines, there are spaces for the air, and bugs, to get through to the radiators. A check of the radiators reveals ver y few bugs.
Very few studies have been done on insects, but researchers in Germany have done a comprehensive study. They found that in 1989 they could catch 3½ pounds of insects in each trap. In 2014, they caught only 10.6 ounces. They think that the two biggest causes of the decline are pesticides and monoculture, where we plant large expanses of one crop, and that is not conducive to insect sustainability.
Now we have a new disease carried by mosquitoes: the Zika virus. There is a lot of spraying going on to try to control the mosquitoes. The problem is that when you do a flyover with a plane, spraying an insecticide, you are killing most all of the insects — good and bad.
It used to be that when you turned on an outside light, there would be many bugs in a short time. Not so many today. We used to have these blue-light bug zappers for mosquitoes, but they killed everything but the mosquitoes. When driving at night, we used to see many bugs flying and hitting the windshield. No more. How many remember the Japanese beetles? I haven’t seen one in the past several years.
Insects are all part of our ecology. Bugs are eaten by many animals like birds, bats, lizards and frogs. We have to learn to keep things in balance. Even the bugs.
Bill Bartlett, Valley Lee