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10-30-2017, 07:37 AM - 1 Like   #181
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
any one who has take photos of insects for a long period care to confirm or quibble with this?

Insect Armageddon - The New York Times

This distressing, but predictable environmental disaster has been noted in another thread, and yes, as someone who collected insects when I was a kid, and has attempted to photograph them ever since I got my first Pentax about 1958, I have been aware that insects are in major decline. To me it has been most obvious with Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars, which were once so common I ignored them, but in recent years I rejoice to see two or three. I was pleased to see a few monarch caterpillars on their preferred milkweed in fields where we walk regularly, but then the entire field was mowed flat, long before those caterpillars would be pupating, and even if they had, once the supporting plants are cut, they will not emerge. It's as Pogo said: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." And it isn't really that we are evil, it's just that there are far too many of us.

10-30-2017, 09:26 AM - 1 Like   #182
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
any one who has take photos of insects for a long period care to confirm or quibble with this?

Insect Armageddon - The New York Times
What's most crucial about this new study is that it's both long term and "horizontal" - they measured general biomass of all low-flying insects, and not just one or a few species, over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany. As such it corroborates previous studies based on single species and shows that what we're seeing is a general and catastrophic decline across all (low-flying) species. This is a very important result and should leave all of us seriously concerned...

BTW, here's a link to the actual research article, for those who care to go to the source.

And here are some pics, because this is a pictures thread.





10-30-2017, 09:32 AM - 1 Like   #183
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QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
. . . And here are some pics, because this is a pictures thread. . . .
oops

sorry about that

is a photo with three enough to make up for my mistake?

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10-30-2017, 10:33 AM   #184
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
oops
sorry about that
No worries - I didn't mean to imply you'd done anything wrong, I just had some shots handy. The study is topical for this thread and very important...

10-30-2017, 12:12 PM   #185
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QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
No worries - I didn't mean to imply you'd done anything wrong, I just had some shots handy. The study is topical for this thread and very important...
I knew that, I was just joking
10-30-2017, 12:14 PM - 1 Like   #186
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
as someone who collected insects when I was a kid
That's my experience in central Illinois as well. Loads of insects to collect in the '60s & '70s. We were even required for HS biology to make collections, and the ones with the highest number of unique insects in good condition got the highest grades. Sadly, I find myself kindly asking children not to do the collecting and chasing I so dearly enjoyed. Most when they hear the reasons are happy to comply.

When we drove from IL to KS and OK once a year to visit relatives, there were always a couple monarchs or swallowtails in the car's grill at each stop. I always checked. Sometimes there were a whole bunch. The only adult monarch I saw this year was in a butterfly house.

The war on milkweed and weeds in general continues. I grew up in a rural farming area. From the perspective of many farmers, the eradication of the the milkweed is a cause for celebration, and the loss of the monarch a sad unfortunate consequence. Before the advent of high powered pesticides, I was paid to walk bean rows and physically remove weeds. Strong stemmed weeds like milkweed could get into the head of the combine and literally stop it cold, and in extreme cases, result in broken machinery, and a loss of harvest due to droppage or weather as the harvest just waited in the field. Seed from weeds contaminate the harvest which results in a much lower price per bushel. No one was paid to walk the ditches and roadside to take out the weeds. So a lot of habitat survived for years beside the fields.

Today farmers use efficient herbicides. Corn and beans are engineered to resist the herbicides. The rows are mostly clean when you look down them. Roadsides, ditches and un-farmable areas of fields are more often sprayed. There are few farmers who can afford to hire manual labor to remove weeds--as was the practice when I was a child. Farmers complained back in the '70s when I walked that they could not find people willing to do the job.

Bottom line, if milkweed and monarchs, and other weeds and the insects they produce are to survive, I think folks need to be intentional about planting these species on their own property, even if the result is not as "pretty as a bed of roses." We need to produce habitat in parts of our own yards. This could be as simple as "what insects do I like?" and "what plants are necessary to feed them?" Next time something is munching our plants, let's take the time to find out what is munching. We might decide that the munching is not such a bad thing, and be willing to share a few plants!

10-30-2017, 12:21 PM   #187
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QuoteOriginally posted by rgknief60 Quote
That's my experience in central Illinois as well. Loads of insects to collect in the '60s & '70s. . . . I grew up in a rural farming area. From the perspective of many farmers, the eradication of the the milkweed is a cause for celebration, and the loss of the monarch a sad unfortunate consequence. Before the advent of high powered pesticides, I was paid to walk bean rows and physically remove weeds. Strong stemmed weeds like milkweed could get into the head of the combine and literally stop it cold, and in extreme cases, result in broken machinery, and a loss of harvest due to droppage or weather as the harvest just waited in the field. Seed from weeds contaminate the harvest which results in a much lower price per bushel. No one was paid to walk the ditches and roadside to take out the weeds. So a lot of habitat survived for years beside the fields. . . . Bottom line, if milkweed and monarchs, and other weeds and the insects they produce are to survive, I think folks need to be intentional about planting these species on their own property, even if the result is not as "pretty as a bed of roses." We need to produce habitat in parts of our own yards. This could be as simple as "what insects do I like?" and "what plants are necessary to feed them?" Next time something is munching our plants, let's take the time to find out what is munching. We might decide that the munching is not such a bad thing, and be willing to share a few plants! . . .
where I grew up in rural east Central Illinois in the '60s ( Le Roy) there was very little livestock being raised or fattened for market, so all the fences got torn out and the farmer plowed from ditch to ditch

without the fence line, habitat for birds ( think game birds like pheasants) and other creatures, small mamals and insects disappeared.


Last edited by aslyfox; 10-30-2017 at 12:36 PM.
10-30-2017, 12:30 PM   #188
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The loss in insectivorous fauna, like amphibians, must be partially attributable to the loss of insects, as well.

The increase in some alien insect species, like Japanese beetles squeezing into people's houses, will keep most people from noticing the loss of many other insect species' numbers.
10-30-2017, 01:10 PM   #189
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QuoteOriginally posted by goatsNdonkey Quote
The loss in insectivorous fauna, like amphibians
Not to mention birds. At the lake in central Ontario we have been visiting for 25+ years aerial insectivores like Eastern Kingbirds, Olive-sided Flycatchers and various swallows used to be common, but not anymore. At the same time Eastern Phoebes still seem to be doing doing OK. There may be more than one reason, such as habitat loss on wintering grounds, but I get the sense there are fewer insects around than there used to be.
10-30-2017, 03:26 PM   #190
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We used to see a lot of kingbirds on our place, but the old the 6-acre oldfield the loved to hunt around has grown up in shrubs, and I think they liked the open country more. We've go a phoebe nesting each year somewhere close to the front porch each year now.
10-31-2017, 06:10 AM   #191
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It's mostly habitat loss, though some invasive species issues exist as well. These include garlic mustard, which shuts out native species in woodland floors and attracts butterflies which use native mustards as host plants. These invasive garlic mustard plants are toxic to the caterpillars. Water Hyacinth, Buckthorn, Teasel, invasive clovers, honeysuckles, barberry, the list goes on. Meanwhile our ash trees are gone, our chestnuts are gone, our elms are hurting, bradford pears are taking over the niche of dogwoods and cherries....and this is just scraping the surface. Habitat loss is the primary extinction cause worldwide.

We can fight this but it will take a) stringently enforced regulations to keep this crap out of the continent moving forward, b) lots of volunteer hours manually removing the infestations, c) eliminating subsidies on livestock and agriculture to bring back scrubby areas which are important to wildlife, d) state and federal planting of native species in open areas instead of just mowing grass and e) people to care enough to drive all the above.

---------- Post added 10-31-17 at 08:12 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
What's most crucial about this new study is that it's both long term and "horizontal" - they measured general biomass of all low-flying insects, and not just one or a few species, over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany. As such it corroborates previous studies based on single species and shows that what we're seeing is a general and catastrophic decline across all (low-flying) species. This is a very important result and should leave all of us seriously concerned...

BTW, here's a link to the actual research article, for those who care to go to the source.

And here are some pics, because this is a pictures thread.





Fairly sure that's the Asian Multicolored Ladybird. These are invasives and have largely killed the native species in nearly all of the US. They have a parasite which they pass to their offspring in eggs. The other ladybirds eat rival eggs, and thus become infected with the parasite which kills them.
10-31-2017, 06:46 AM   #192
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
It's mostly habitat loss, ...
Not sure if you read the fine article. The study was conducted within a set of nature preserves, so what they measured is local biomass. The effect of habitat loss on total insect populations likely compounds the issue that was observed by the researchers. Locally, the authors opine that changes in habitat did not play a large role:

QuoteQuote:
Given the major decline in insect biomass of about 80%, much stronger relationships would have been expected if changes in habitat and land use were the driving forces (...)
The authors also think changes in climate are an unlikely source for the decline, as the main climate variable that changed - an increase in temperature - would rather favor an increase in insect biomass.

The authors speculate on agricultural intensification as a possible culprit:
QuoteQuote:
Agricultural intensification (...) (e.g. pesticide usage, year-round tillage, increased use of fertilizers and frequency of agronomic measures) that we could not incorporate in our analyses, may form a plausible cause. The reserves in which the traps were placed are of limited size in this typical fragmented West-European landscape, and almost all locations (94%) are enclosed by agricultural fields. Part of the explanation could therefore be that the protected areas (serving as insect sources) are affected and drained by the agricultural fields in the broader surroundings (serving as sinks or even as ecological traps). Increased agricultural intensification may have aggravated this reduction in insect abundance in the protected areas over the last few decades. Whatever the causal factors responsible for the decline, they have a far more devastating effect on total insect biomass than has been appreciated previously.

To come back to your comment:
QuoteQuote:
Fairly sure that's the Asian Multicolored Ladybird.
Indeed!
10-31-2017, 07:23 AM   #193
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Of course, any one study, finding certain factors having less of a role in the study area, doesn't mean that those factors might not be the important causes of insect species decline in other localities. For example, some places are afflicted terribly with a single invasive species that reduces food plant diversity insects depend on and others are less so afflicted. If that isn't a major factor in a study area, the affect of that kind of invasion simply is not measured in the study. I does not mean it's not a problem elsewhere.
10-31-2017, 08:45 AM - 1 Like   #194
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QuoteOriginally posted by goatsNdonkey Quote
(...) invasive species that reduces food plant diversity insects depend on and others are less so afflicted.
Totally, but let's not confuse bio-diversity with biomass. If an invasive species replaces a native one, there is a loss of diversity, but not necessarily one of biomass. Other insects could thrive instead, as you note.

But this is not what the authors are seeing, and that's why their study is important. It shows that there is not just a decline in some species, but a catastrophic decline across all species, even inside nature preserves. This doesn't mean other problems (like habitat loss, or, as you note, invasive species, for instance) don't exist, it means our problems are even bigger and more widespread than we thought... And, unsurprisingly, the authors call for further research to accurately pinpoint causes.

Here's another pic, because - photos! (Re-posted from Show Me Your Insects.)



Last edited by Doundounba; 10-31-2017 at 09:14 AM.
10-31-2017, 09:15 AM - 1 Like   #195
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Individual nature reserves that comprise "islands" disconnected from other natural features in the landscape aren't necessarily very protective of biodiversity over the long term (I'm not as sure about biomass). They need critical mass, connectivity with other features, and preferably both so that populations aren't isolated. That's one of the reasons why corridors like hedgerows and vegetated river valleys are important.The protection of biodiversity in southern Ontario is now focused on connected natural heritage systems rather than individual features.
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