Saturday November 23rd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉
Insect Decimation And Our Environmental And Climatological Decline
Dear Diary. Ironically as I begin writing for today’s post I had an ant invasion in my bedroom last night. Apparently a few creepy crawlers sniffed out some crumbs in my bed, which were leftovers from an evening snack, somehow navigated through a window seal, and made a nice trail back to their nest. They woke me up in the middle of the night biting my tuckhus. Yep, I never should have snacked in bed.
We may look upon ants as pests or fear and despise bee stings, but these two species of insects play a critical role with the food chain. Bees are essential for pollinating most of the foods we cultivate as a species. Ants break down organic material, helping to fertilize ground for plants to grow, and are also food for many other species, such as birds. By now most of you are aware that a combination of pollution, pesticides and yes climate change are decimating bee populations. Today let’s take a deeper dive, reposting most of the following Guardian article on light pollution to see how us humans are affecting insects. What comes around goes around in nature. Let’s also think how decimated insect populations may eventually affect us after reading today’s post:
Light pollution is key ‘bringer of insect apocalypse’
Exclusive: scientists say bug deaths can be cut by switching off unnecessary lights
Light pollution is a significant but overlooked driver of the rapid decline of insect populations, according to the most comprehensive review of the scientific evidence to date.
Artificial light at night can affect every aspect of insects’ lives, the researchers said, from luring moths to their deaths around bulbs, to spotlighting insect prey for rats and toads, to obscuring the mating signals of fireflies.
“We strongly believe artificial light at night – in combination with habitat loss, chemical pollution, invasive species, and climate change – is driving insect declines,” the scientists concluded after assessing more than 150 studies. “We posit here that artificial light at night is another important – but often overlooked – bringer of the insect apocalypse.”
However, unlike other drivers of decline, light pollution was relatively easy to prevent, the team said, by switching off unnecessary lights and using proper shades. “Doing so could greatly reduce insect losses immediately,” they said.
Brett Seymoure, a behavioural ecologist at Washington University in St Louis and senior author of the review, said: “Artificial light at night is human-caused lighting – ranging from streetlights to gas flares from oil extraction. It can affect insects in pretty much every imaginable part of their lives.”
Light pollution affects dung beetles, which use starlight to navigate. “For us, light pollution is a shame as we can’t see the night stars, but for a beetle it is literally life and death,” said Brett Seymoure.
Insect population collapses have been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, and the first global scientific review, published in February, said widespread declines threatened to cause a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”.
The latest review says: “Insects around the world are rapidly declining. Their absence would have devastating consequences for life on this planet.”
There are thought to be millions of insect species, most still unknown to science, and about half are nocturnal. Those active in the day may also be disturbed by light at night when they are at rest.
The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, notes that light has long been used deliberately by farmers to suppress insects. But as human infrastructure has expanded, and the cost of lighting has fallen, light pollution has come to affect a quarter of the world’s land surface.
The most familiar impact of light pollution is moths flapping around a bulb, mistaking it for the moon. One-third of insects trapped in the orbit of such lights die before morning, according to work cited in the review, either through exhaustion or being eaten.
The corn earworm moth stops mating if light levels are above the illumination provided by a quarter moon at night.
Recent research in the UK found greater losses of moths at light-polluted sites than dark ones. Vehicle headlights pose a deadly moving hazard, and this fatal attraction has been estimated to result in 100 billion insect deaths per summer in Germany.
Artificial light also hinders insects finding a mate in some species, the review found, most obviously in firefly beetles, which exchange bioluminescent signals during courtship
Some insects use the polarisation of light to find the water they need to breed, as light waves line up after reflecting from a smooth surface. But artificial light can scupper this. “Mayflies live for only one day, so they come out and look for polarised light. They find it – but from asphalt – lay their eggs there, and they all die. That’s a good way to knock out an entire population in 24 hours.”
The development of juvenile insects, such as field crickets, also has been shown to be affected by light pollution, which changes the perceived length of the day and night.
The review found the search for food is affected by light pollution. Insects that avoid light, for example weta, the giant flightless crickets found in New Zealand, spend less time foraging in light-polluted areas.
Insects are important prey for many species, but light pollution can tip the balance in favour of the predator if it traps insects around lights. Spiders, bats, rats, shorebirds, geckos and cane toads have all been found feeding around artificial lights. Such increases in predation risk was likely to cause the rapid extinction of affected species, the researchers said.
I encourage all of my readers to continue reading the most thorough Guardian article on insects and light pollution:
Next let’s touch on bees and climate change. I like this little diagram:
Obviously honey bee populations are declining, but as one can see, reasons for the decline are a bit complex. Change in temperature and even wind patterns involving climate change can affect bees. Here is more from conservation.org:
The buzz on climate change: It’s bad for bees
© Trond Larsen Aug 19, 2017 By Leah Duran
Did you eat an apple today or drink coffee this morning? Thank a bee.
About one out of every three bites of food is made possible by bees and other pollinators — in the United States alone, honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year. But the world’s honeybees are in steep decline, with 10 million hives disappearing just in the past three years. Not having honey is the least of our problems.
While scientists aren’t clear on exactly what factors are behind bees’ decline, what is known is that climate change is also making life harder for bees. Here’s how:
1. Habitat loss
Climate change is causing habitat loss as bees fail to migrate to cooler areas and establish new hives. A recent study on bumblebee migrations found that bee territories have shrunk by nearly 200 miles in North America and Europe. In South Africa, CI is keeping important pollinator habitat intact and helping to ensure future food security there.
2. Shifting temperatures
As average monthly temperatures rise, flowers bloom earlier in the spring, creating a potential mismatch in seasonal timing between when flowers produce pollen and when bees are ready to feed on that pollen. Even a small mismatch of three to six days could negatively affect bees’ health, making them less likely to reproduce and less resistant to predators and parasites.
Honeybees are susceptible to parasites such as Varroa mites and the gut parasite Nosema ceranae, and environmental stresses may increase infections. Scientists first discovered the Nosema ceranae in the early 1990s in Asian honeybees. It has since spread to Europe and the U.S., causing shorter lifespans and colony collapse. A recent study found that lower temperatures were associated with lower prevalence of the parasite, indicating that higher temperatures as a result of climate change could result in more bees infected with Nosema ceranae.
What can you do? Experts suggest starting with the bees and other pollinators in your own backyard: Plant a pollinator-friendly garden designed to maximize blooming for most of the year. In urban areas, porch and window planters can provide important food sources for bees.
So, the next time you swat a bee or mash an ant like I had to do last night do a double take. These little friends are essential to our continued existence on this planet. Let’s all think of ways to keep them going for a long time to come in nature’s kingdom.
Here is more climate and weather news from Saturday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)
(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.)
Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”