Bees are main pollinator for a lot of plant species, meaning that the presence of the insect is important for those plants to exist. Bees are also known as one of the most beneficial insects to human since they can also produce honey.
However, bees are dying and it is on us. We are killing the bees by spraying chemical insecticides to our crops and pollute the air that the bees cannot live well enough to repopulate their colonies today. This can be a sad ending to the species with one of the most contributions to the nature.
But apparently, we are not only killing the bees! Newest study found that we are also killing other species of insects. Entomologists from all around the world have warned us that flies are under the threat of extinction too, just like bees.
What is really happening now? is this what the entomologists call as the beginning of ‘insect apocalypse’? What are the signs? Here, in this article, we are going to talk about this.
Have you been used to cleaning your windshield after a long drive and find some splattered insect on it? Apparently, the number of insects splattered on our windshield is one of the most obvious signs to determine insect population.
In recent decade, entomologists found that the number of insects splattered on our windshield is decreasing. Roughly, it means that the number of insects in this planet is decreasing too. Another option that is not yet explored is that the insects are avoiding human presence to faraway areas.
Compare it to 20 years ago, or several decades earlier, a long drive would result in windshield full of splattered bug guts. Some people even had to pull off and clear the windshield so that they could see what’s in front of them clearly.
Nowadays, the same drive on the same road would result in much less splattered insect guts, if not a clear windshield at all. New York Times considered that this phenomenon was enough for them to declare an ‘insect apocalypse’.
At least, it urged entomologists to conduct a study to find where did those insects go. Was it because the number of insect population has been decreasing significantly, or was it because of them running away from our windshield?
More Than Buzz And Bites
Okay, so now we have to possibilities to asses, and which one is truer will affect our future greatly. Insects do not exist only to bother you with their buzz and bites, but also for far more important reasons too. Two of them are to decompose organic matters and as an important part in global food web.
Whether as primary or secondary decomposers, many species of insect play important role to keep our earth clean. Some insects are able to break down and dispose wastes including dead animals and plants. Rhinoceros beetles, flies, and termites are mentionable three of them.
Many more insects are even sole food source for many animals like amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Let alone carnivorous plants. This is why the term ‘insectivore’ was invented. Insects indeed are rich source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that some people even eat them for food.
Well, should we also mention how bland this world would be without insects and bugs? Yep, butterflies, fireflies, and dragonflies are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth that belong to the insects and bugs family.
So we know now that insects and bugs are not only about their buzz and bites, their disappearance should mean more than just decline of profit for bug repellent industry. But again, do they really disappear or just moving away from us?
For more than 30 years, a group of entomologists from Germany have collected tens of millions of bugs and crawlers using their insect trap. The kind of trap they are using is a kind of standardized one that’s also used all around the world.
“Since 1982, the traps we manufacture ourselves have been standardized and controlled, all of the same size and the same material, and they are collected at the same rate in 63 locations that are still identical,” said Martin Sorg, president of Amateur Entomology Society of Krefeld.
Based on his experience in collecting insects, he found out that nowadays it is harder. The reason is something terrifying, according to Sorg, because nowadays we have lost 76% of total flying insect biomass.
In example, in 1994, a bottle of trapped insect could collect up to 1,400 grams of trapped insect. But nowadays, it can only collect 300 grams of insects from the same area in the same range of time of collection.
“We only became aware of the seriousness of this decline in 2011, and every year since then we have seen it get worse,” said Sorg. But our ignorance kept the news hidden from outside ecological circle up to recently.
Point Of No Return
Air pollution is the main suspect in this decline. If we keep on polluting the air, researchers said that we may reach a point of no return in no time, and it may lead to horrible news for every single organism on earth due to the importance of insects.
In example, Sorg told a story about a bad news he received from a group of researchers working across the Dutch border, led by professor Hans de Kroon. They found out that birds in that area suffered from shortage of foods.
It resulted in the decline of bird population there. “Our German colleagues from Krefeld got in touch and said, ‘we have the data, we’ve witnessed a strong decline, we are very concerned, could you analyse the data?’ That’s how it all started,” Sorg explained
The decline of bird population is just a small example of bigger disaster may to come. It started out from the birds, then the mammals, then maybe us too. “It is our greatest fear that a point of no return will be reached, which will lead to a permanent loss of diversity,” he said.
Fueled by this information, teams of volunteers have been trying to receive more information and funding to start a study to call off the disaster. Yes, the ‘cancelation of doomsday’ project has not been started yet.
We need to raise awareness about this thing and start protecting our ecosystem from small things. So, next time you see a fly, you might need to think twice before swatting.