In this article, Jeremy Hance describes ongoing concerns regarding collapsing insect populations.
- In June 2019, in response to media outcry and alarm over a supposed ongoing global “Insect Apocalypse,” Mongabay published a thorough four-part survey on the state of the world’s insect species and their populations.
- In four, in-depth stories, science writer Jeremy Hance interviewed 24 leading entomologists and other scientists on six continents and working in 12 nations to get their expert views on the rate of insect decline in Europe, the U.S., and especially the tropics, including Latin America, Africa, and Australia.
- Now, 16 months later, Hance reaches out to seven of those scientists to see what’s new. He finds much bad news: butterflies in Ohio declining by 2% per year, 94% of wild bee interactions with native plants lost in New England, and grasshopper abundance falling by 30% in a protected Kansas grassland over 20 years.
- Scientists say such losses aren’t surprising; what’s alarming is our inaction. One researcher concludes: “Real insect conservation would mean conserving large whole ecosystems both from the point source attacks, AND the overall blanket of climate change and six billion more people on the planet than there should be.”
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the heart of a what was increasingly a global lockdown, the rains finally came to East Africa. They came after several years of drought and less-than-stellar rainy seasons. And with these rains, came the insects, says Dino Joseph Martins, the executive director of the Mpala Research Center. “There’s been this beautiful flash of butterflies and everybody’s with their families or at home, or trying to entertain their kids that are not in school, and looking at things in the garden or going on walks,” Martins said in August.
Martins, an entomologist and butterfly aficionado, has become so “inundated” by questions from curious insect onlookers in lockdown that he’s considering “quitting social media” just to have some time to breathe again.
“I think there has been a much broader appreciation of nature [during the pandemic] and it’s because of the loneliness of lockdown, the isolation,” says Martins. “This has been such a blow for so many people.” But, according to the scientist, the pandemic has also unexpectedly awakened many people to the marvels of the natural world and our interconnectedness with it.
It’s a happy anecdote in a year that has seen not only wrenching global change due to the pandemic, but also reams of new research on the potential decline of insects around the world, often dubbed more dramatically as the “insect apocalypse” by the media.
New data fills out increasingly complex global picture
A year after publishing Mongabay’s June 2019 series The Great Insect Dying, I reached out again to some of my scientific sources to see how they viewed new findings across the previous twelve months. None of the seven researchers I spoke with expressed a major shift in their well informed views, which ranged from concern over regional declines, to a wider belief that global insect diversity and abundance may be gravely in trouble.
This article was written by Jeremy Hance and published in Mongabay on the on 11 November 2020. You can read the full, original article here: