insect numbers fall by 76% in 27 years signaling an impending ‘ecological armageddon’

posted October 19, 2017

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The Guardian are warning of an ecological armageddon due to the data published in a study released yesterday which shows that insect populations have declined by over 75% in the last quarter century.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

Insects are one of the most crucial elements in the global ecosystem as vital pollinators and as a food source for animals further up the food chain such as bats, birds and amphibians. The research was carried out in Germany which has been a popular location for recent studies on entomology with specific focus on the decline of pollinators. We have written before about the role of widespread pesticide use in the decline of insect population. Although researchers in this most recent study were unable to confirm the exact impact of pesticide use on the mass extinction of insects, other similar and more specific field studies have confirmed that there is a causal link between the two.

It is becoming more and more clear with every passing day that our current agricultural practices that require enormous chemical inputs and the clearing of natural wildlife refuges cannot be continued. Large scale industrial agriculture, rather than feeding the world is killing it. Once we exceed the ecological tipping point of an ecosystem, irreversible collapse is imminent.

You can read the full study on which the Guardian article was based article HERE


“bee” kind to pollinators!

posted January 27, 2017

our-humble-helpers

Protecting our pollinators is an important lesson in always looking out for the little guy. From bees and butterflies to moths and hummingbirds, little guys are essential to our food system and the intricate web of life here on planet Earth. To wit:

According to our friends at honeylove.org, bees alone pollinate 80% of the world’s plants, including 90 different food crops, and one out of every three to four bites of food we eat is in thanks to bees. The honey bee is also personally responsible for $15 billion in US agricultural crops each year.

And if you like chocolate, there’s an especially little guy that you need to thank:

Allen Young, a leading cacao expert states, “A tiny fly no bigger than the head of a pin is responsible for the world’s supply of chocolate.” Incredible!

To learn more mind-blowing facts about pollinators and the important work to protect them, click HERE. You’ll find Blair Wojcik’s excellent blog post at Kiss the Ground, the good folks who are inspiring us to protect and restore soil around the globe.


USDA scientists suspended in connection to his research on monarchs

posted November 29, 2015

monarch-butterfly-caterpillar-insect-danaus-plexippus-725x487Sit back, friends. I’ve got a story for you. (Spoiler alert, it involves pesticides, pollinators, USDA protection of Big Ag interests, and the failure of the US government to protect whistleblowers.)

“Politics inside USDA have made entomology a high risk specialty.”

In early 2015, USDA scientist, Dr. Jonathon Lundgren submitted his research on pesticides and pollinators to a peer-reviewed journal. In response, supervisors at the USDA suspended Dr. Lundgren under the pretense that has research had unearthed “sensitive information” that had not yet been approved for publication.

What could be so sensitive you ask? Dr. Lundgren had found that clothianidin, a neonicotinoid seed treatment (pesticide), kills monarch butterfly larvae in the laboratory.

It doesn’t sound that surprising, does it? Either that a crop treatment would adversely affect pollinators or that the USDA would be reluctant to publish the information. But it gets better.

It turns out that Dr. Lundgren is whistleblower, who in September 2014 had lodged a formal complaint against the USDA for serious alleged violations of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy, including attempts by senior officials to impede or deter Lundgren’s research. He believes– and we are inclined to believe him– that his 14-day suspension is a direct retaliation to that action and to the threat his research poses to big ag.

You can read more, including the full whistleblower narrative and a history of scientist manipulation, on PEER.org



save the bees (3 ways)

posted August 5, 2015

bees

  1. Watch this short interview: Tree Hive Bees- Scientific Research to Save the Honeybees
For those who are concerned about the plight of the honeybees, here’s a recent interview with a bee researcher who is doing novel work to try and find solutions. This may be a timely video given that there are still groups out there denying that Colony Collapse Disease is even a real problem.
Indirectly, it’s a wake-up call for government to increase funding to enable basic research, as time may be running out.

2. Read this article: Pesticides Are Killing Greece’s Bees: Honey Industry Suffers Amid Broader Economic Turmoil

3. Watch this film: Vanishing of the Bees narrated by Ellen Page


upcoming webinar: enhancing native pollinator populations on farms

posted April 10, 2014

April 17, Noon – 1 pm EDT

We need these farming partners to pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops, yet our native pollinators and honey bees are struggling from multiple threats of pesticide exposure, habitat loss, parasites and diseases.  John Hayden from The Farm Between in Jeffersonville, VT will present on who the native pollinators are, why they are in trouble, and how we can bring back populations with ecologically sound farming practices, pollinator friendly plantings, and by providing nesting and overwintering habitat. 

To participate, please go to http://go.uvm.edu/aemon at about 11:45 a.m EDT on April 17, 2014 and click on the webinar title.  For more information, contact newfarmer@uvm.edu or call 802-223-2389×203. If you have not participated in a webinar before, we recommend you download the necessary software for free the day before the webinar is scheduled athttp://tiny.cc/UVMWebinarCheck.

pollinators

image borrowed from here

pollinators on the farmscape

posted September 25, 2012

Are you interested in learning more about pollinators? Don’t miss out on this great opportunity at Stone Barns Center! 
 

Pollinators on the Farmscape
Saturday, September 29, 2012
1:00PM-3:00PM

Join Laura Perkins, Stone Barn Center’s Gardener, for a walking workshop focused on pollinators. In addition to discussing how to encourage the presence of pollinators, Laura will cover different  types of pollinators, their preferred habitats, food sources (floral and otherwise), services they provide, management strategies, and considerations with regard to public and employee safety and comfort.
Workshop participants will be walking around the farm; comfortable shoes and sun protection (hats, sunblock, etc.) are highly recommended.
Click here to register.