The Insect Apocolypse is Here. What does it mean for the rest of life on earth? So reads the 2018 feature article in the New York Times. The title article is printed white against a black background, perhaps with good reason. Nearly wiping out insects could bring perhaps some good results (sort of) against a background of devastating results.
The good result (sort of) of an insect-free world is that perhaps unemployment could be wiped out. SERVICES LIKE POLLINATION PROVIDED BY INSECTS TODAY WOULD THEN NEED TO BE DONE BY PEOPLE.
Are all insect species on the brink of being exterminated? Is the volume of insects, pound per pound going from heavyweight to featherweight class in our lifetime? Many scientific reports give an explanation to what we laypeople notice already, cleaner windshields, insect guide books against which there are fewer live examples to compare to, greatly diminished and diminishing caterpillars, butterflies, birds, and many other natural world species.
We are only just beginning to notice a dwindling workforce that provides us with free services, from waste recycling, to pollination; Will we regret not taking the time now, to recognize and appreciate, while we still have the chance, a diversity of life that David Attenborough describes as "...[The natural world] is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of life. that makes life worth living"?
Do we even know what is still here providing the services we depend on for life every day in our own community? Enter citizen scientist - you.
From May 8 - May 23 the Jericho Conservation Commission and the Jericho Mobbs Committee are sponsoring a Bio Blitz* at Mobbs Park. Open to and depending on public volunteers, to walk in the park, observe life forms, from insects to birds, to plants - any life form, take photos of what is observed, and post the photos onto iNaturalist*.
*A Bioblitz is a great way for people of all ages to contribute their observations to the broader scientific community while learning about the diversity of a local place. Learn more about this fun and educational event at the Jericho web page link: https://jerichovt.org/bioblitz.
*iNaturalist is a )easy to use) crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications (I rarely know the Id at the time I post an observation), collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.
|Photo from the fall of 2020 Mobbs Bio Blitz|
THE TOWN AND RESIDENTS OF JERICHO have made a major commitment to conserving ecosystems already, like the action to conserve Mobbs Farm for current and future generations of Jericho residents and wildlife. This bio blitz is an opportunity to participate in observing and recording some of the biodiversity at Mobbs that enriches our lives today, much of which could be lost to us if current trends continue. It is said that we cannot or perhaps are less likely to love and care for life that we do not see or know of. This bio blitz is a chance to get to know our natural world neighbors who do so very much for us. It is like going to the zoo, without the cages, to see a diversity of life in its natural habitat and bringing home photos to share with neighbors and friends, and scientists.
Pollinators and other beneficial insects including native bees and butterflies are facing threats due to habitat fragmentation, degradation, and loss. Lack of native vegetation for food and nesting sites threatens their viability (according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service).
Threats to pollinators become threats to our food supply. Many pollinators including bumblebees are extremely efficient at pollinating crops. However, these bees rely on native plants for forage and nesting as they are unable to feed on most non-native plants and grasses. Native plants are essential for pollinator viability and success and are therefore also essential to the success of the human food supply. Locally of particular concern, tomatoes, squash, apples, and blueberries.
Threats to biodiversity affect the entire web of life. We depend on the work of ecosystems of plants and animals. Ignoring their peril is to ignore our own.
I found Dave Wagner's (Conn. Entomologist) report "Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts" illuminating. I think it is critical that we raise awareness of the importance of insects as well as their beauty, complexity, and amazing examples of life diversity.
Join the Jericho Conservation Committee and Mobbs Committee and your fellow neighbors of all ages from May 8 - May 23 at Mobbs to observe and record LIFE while it still exists at Mobbs! Even observing insects in our backyard, I have found and recorded species seldom if ever recorded in Vermont (on iNaturalist). What might you observe at Mobbs? If you take a close look and listen, The Natural World Will Astound You.
Observing life in nature.
Connecting native habitat, wildlife, and community.
Further Reading & Watching
Bee Conservation in Vermont (Video) VT Center of Ecostudies