Insect population dynamics – Decline in population
A multi-year study done in Germany has revealed that there is a major change in insect population dynamics – flying insects have declined by 76% since the last few decades. This study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, PLOS One, which is reportedly the world’s first multidisciplinary Open Access journal.
This is a shocking bit of information because insects are an indicator of life that exists on the planet, and essential for our survival too. If insects go, we will not be far behind.
Combined with almost catastrophic climate change, shocking loss of top soils (due to unsustainable agriculture practices), apparently we have only 60 years of harvest left, and decimation of fishing we are destroying the basis of our existence. These problems may seem too large to get our heads around, but they are undeniable facts that we and our children have to face.
Are we responsible for this decline?
The sad part is most farmers, gardeners & households use chemicals for eradicating what we call “pests”. But in the process what we do is manage to destroy all insects without discrimination.
Most insects are useful to us, only a few are harmful, but chemicals can’t distinguish that. Second. Insecticides don’t know when to stop killing; they tend to persist in the environment and keep acting long after their application.
There is ample evidence both from science and from the direct experience of our organic farmers, that insecticides’ being essential to agriculture is a myth!
Can I help?
Is it possible that action from us will help arrest this negative change in insect population dynamics? Yes!
It is our action that has brought us to this situation and it is our actions that will help us dig out of this.
So, what can we do about it?
First, we have to get over our habit of using chemicals for cleaning, spraying, creating scents, freshening, disinfecting- a small part of it kills the target insects /microbes, the rest manages to wipe out favourable life forms.
Reduce the use of chemicals in and around our homes and gardens, use non-toxic, natural cleaners, body products. Use potpourris to freshen cupboards, rooms; use pure essential oils to freshen the rooms and give clothes a fresh fragrance; use fresh natural herbs crushed and smoked to drive away mosquitoes; these will help us as well. We will find ourselves and our skin breathing better.
Second, every one of us can start working on planting as many trees in our neighbourhood. But, it is not enough to plant, we have to see them through the critical years to ensure that trees survive and mature. Planting trees every year (on environment day or some other occasion) without seeing them through to maturity will merely be an exercise in futility.
In addition, I think it has become imperative for every one of us to grow flowering plants in and around us; these attract pollinators – insects, moths, butterflies. I have noticed since some weeks that a bunch of lantana bushes across from our gate is a veritable butterfly garden. Every morning we see them in all hues fluttering and flying around (with our cat unsuccessfully trying to chase them on non-lazy mornings).
We are letting Shankupushpam plants grow, and throwing dried jendu malli flowers around so that they sprout up everywhere. Every flower with nectar could become a source of sustenance for these creatures (who we do not notice or notice for the wrong reasons), who are one of the links to our survival.
Humbling to think that the great, powerful, intelligent mankind does need the humble insect to survive? Plant a garden, a few pots and help the planet! You will help add to the insect population dynamics as well!