Fight the decline in insect populations

Do your part in fighting the decline of insect populations

Smart Farmer How To
DESTRUCTIVE: Global factors such as climate change might contribute to insect loss, but blame must be placed squarely on the shoulders of mankind.

DESTRUCTIVE: Global factors such as climate change might contribute to insect loss, but blame must be placed squarely on the shoulders of mankind.

Aa

There is increasing community awareness of the worldwide threat to bees and the consequences to food production if they are lost. But did you know that the problem is even wider, with decline in the world's general insect population?

Aa

See the October edition of Smart Farmer here

There is increasing community awareness of the worldwide threat to bees and the consequences to food production if they are lost.

But did you know that the problem is even wider, with decline in the world's general insect population?

It has been claimed that 40 per cent of insect species are in decline, one third actually endangered.

Some insects cause a lot of grief for mankind; mosquitoes transmitting malaria and other lethal diseases, fleas carrying plague from rats to man and wiping out a quarter of Europe's population in the 17th century, flies invading our space, contaminating our food and spoiling our picnics.

But there are over 90,000 species of insects in the world, 20,000 of them bees.

Some confident individual estimated that there are 1018 insects in the world at this moment and a vast number of these, like our bees, have vital roles in the world's ecology, and with that, the continuing survival of mankind.

Above ground, insects provide food for birds, amphibians and animals, many of which are consequently also in decline.

While we remind ourselves over half our agricultural food production depends on pollination by the honeybee, wild bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, ants, beetles and moths all contribute to pollination of crops, wild flowers, trees and shrubs.

Below ground insects contribute to soil production by the breakdown of organic matter.

The continuing loss of insects could be the start a second massive extinction in the history of the world.

Alarmist indeed, but moderates take heart from the knowledge of the vast number of species and the ability of nature to adapt.

What is the cause of this decline? Global factors such as climate change might contribute, but blame must be placed squarely on the shoulders of mankind, in particular on modern agricultural practices.

Destruction of environmental habitat to provide for huge food crops, the use of potent chemicals in the production of those crops, especially the systemic pesticides, neonicotinoids.

Just as DDT was found to be destructive of the environment (despite the benefits of its efficacy on mosquitoes and the potential to wipe out malaria), these modern poisons are accused of producing the same consequences in this 21st century.

Above ground they kill or damage the good insects with the bad, and contaminating the soil they do the same to the producers of fertile soil.

While scientists are working to find means of non-chemical pest control, there is little public awareness and a spectacular lack of political will to address the issue, though in some countries, notably France, the offending neonicotinoids have been banned.

Like endangered higher animal species, threatened insects are being listed.

We need to preserve grasslands, native plants and forests, grow flowering plants in nature strips and most important, avoid the inappropriate use of poisoning chemicals.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by