A world without insects will not survive!
Motorists in Australia today rarely need to clean off insects from their windscreens, headlights, and grills like they would have done in the 1960’s and 70’s. You might remember the start of the Men In Black movie where the van driver is complaining about dam bugs on his windscreen etc. I remember when I was a young kid, each time we were about to head off on a trip somewhere, there first thing Dad would do was grab the bug screen from out in the shed and mount it in front of the windscreen.
We don’t have these problems now and this is NOT good news. The decline in the number of insects flying or crawling around these days is actually a major cause for concern.
This decline in the insect population is not just a bonus for motorists that disliked having to clean all the insects off their cars after a drive in the country; it poses a significant environmental problem that requires action on our part.
In this article, we will explore the worrying decline of the insect population and why it is bad news for Planet Earth, as well as you and me.
The Importance of Insects in our World.
Insects play a critical role in sustaining ecosystems. They are not just tiny creatures flying and crawling around; they are essential for the survival of many organisms, including us humans.
Insects such as bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, biting midges and lovebugs are responsible for pollinating approximately 80% of the plants in our world. Without them, our food supply would be severely impacted.
Beetles, flies, ants, and millipedes play a vital role in breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients back into the soil. They feed on decaying matter and break it down into smaller particles which make it easier for micro-organisms to decompose further. This process releases essential nutrients back into the soil, enriching it for future plant growth.
Pest Control and Disease Prevention
While some insects may be considered pests, it is important to remember that not all insects are problematic.
There are many types of insects that help with pest control and disease prevention. These insects are called beneficial insects. They include ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, and predatory mites, to name a few. Beneficial insects can help control harmful insect populations, such as aphids and mealybugs, which can damage crops and spread diseases.
For example, ladybugs love feeding on aphids. Aphids are small insects that feed on the sap of plants and this can cause significant damage to crops by reducing yields and seed size. Aphids can also spread viruses and bacterial diseases. So, “Thank you ladybugs for your service”.
We need more beneficial insects out there in the world, fighting the good fight for our agricultural systems and reduce the need for harmful pesticides.
The Impact of Declining Insect Populations.
The decline of insects has far-reaching consequences for our planet. Without insects, ecosystems would become imbalanced, leading to a loss of biodiversity. Many animals rely on insects as a food source, and their disappearance would disrupt the entire food chain. Birds, bats, reptiles, and amphibians, among other creatures, would struggle to find enough food to survive.
Furthermore, the decline of beneficial insects can have severe implications for human health. Problematic insects like mosquitoes and ticks can transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease. Without natural predators like dragonflies, damselflies, spiders and ants, problematic disease-carrying insects could multiply more rapidly than we can handle, posing a greater risk to human populations.
7 Step plan for protecting insect populations.
It is crucial that we take action to protect and restore insect populations. Here are a few steps we can take:
1. Preserve Natural Habitats: Protecting and preserving natural habitats, such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands, ensures that insects have a place to thrive. By conserving these habitats, we are also safeguarding the entire ecosystem and the services it provides. Zero-till/No-Till farming and crop rotation helps protect insect populations in the soil.
2. Reduce Pesticide Use: Excessive use of pesticides can harm beneficial insects. By adopting sustainable farming practices and reducing the use of harmful chemicals, we can create a more insect-friendly environment.
3. Grow native plants in your backyard: Planting native species in our gardens provides a source of food and shelter for insects. Native plants are adapted to the local environments and can support a diverse range of insect species. Native plants provide essential food and habitat for insects, as they have evolved alongside each other over many thousands of years. By choosing native species, we can create a welcoming environment for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Additionally, native plants require less water and fertilizer, making them a sustainable choice for our gardens.
4. Educate our kids and raise awareness: By educating ourselves and others about the importance of insects, we can foster a greater appreciation for these tiny little friends of our. Increasing awareness about their role in ecosystems can inspire individuals to take action and make a positive difference. There are many fish species that feed on insects on top of the water such as the African butterflyfish and the silver arowana. It just doesn’t matter which way you look, there’s not one part of this planet that doesn’t need healthy insect populations.
5. Combat Light Pollution: Light pollution not only affects our ability to observe the night sky but also disrupts the behaviour and navigation of nocturnal insects. Excessive artificial lighting that needlessly illuminates vast areas of land can throw out the whole night time balance for insects. Crickets and moths are two examples of insects that are negatively affected with their nocturnal activity via light pollution.
6. Create Insect-Friendly Habitats: Another way to support insect populations is by creating more habitats for them to thrive. Building more dams and lakes inland can provide new homes for insects such as dragonflies and damselflies. These water-loving creatures require clean water bodies to reproduce and survive. By constructing such habitats, we can help these species flourish and contribute to the overall biodiversity of our ecosystems.
7. Transform Your Backyard into an Insect Haven: Our backyards have the potential to become havens for insects and promote biodiversity. By planting a variety of flowering plants, we can attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Additionally, leaving a patch of the lawn un-mowed or creating a small wildflower meadow can provide a valuable habitat for insects. Avoiding the use of chemical pesticides in our backyard is essential as is providing sources of water, such as a birdbath or small pond. It doesn’t take a lot on our part to provide an insect-friendly environment at home.
Insects are not all pests; a very large percentage of them are crucial for the health of us and our planet. Their decline is a major environmental problem that requires our attention and action. By understanding the importance of insects, we can work towards preserving their populations; ensure the survival of our population and ensuring a sustainable future for species that use this planet.
It will not take a lot of effort for us to be responsible stewards of the planet. It’s our duty to take action and reverse the decline of insect populations. By planting native plants, reducing pesticide use, combating light pollution, creating insect-friendly habitats, and transforming our backyards into insect havens, we can make a significant difference to the very important overall balance of things.
Let’s leave behind a thriving planet for future generations.