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LETTER: Living world disappearing

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Contact The Guardian to submit a letter to the Editor. - SaltWire Network


A society of insect scientists and citizens in Krefeld, Germany and the Netherlands has trapped and collected flying insects from 1989 to 2016 in nature reserves. The society traps flying insects from March to October using Malaise traps which are always positioned in the same location and orientation.
The Malaise trap targets insects flying within one metre of the ground. The traps funnel the insects into bottles of alcohol. Once the bottles are collected, an estimate of the total insect weight called the insect biomass is made.
The insect society reports a 76 percent reduction in Germany’s flying insect biomass over 27 years. Many citizens reason that the die-off of insects is caused by herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, pesticides; further, the loss of insect's ecological services is an externalized cost of a false economy.
When you think back over the past you realize that insect strikes on the windshield of your car are fewer today. Thirty years ago, when people gassed up, they were always cleaning their windshield. Today, there are often no windshield bug strikes.
A researcher in Uruguay, where grasslands have been converted to industrial agriculture during the past 15 years, reports a loss of wildlife diversity plus a decline in insects, small birds and small mammals. Sixty percent of birds rely on insects as a food source. German researchers report a 15 percent decline in bird abundance in just over a decade. The living world is disappearing, dying, before our eyes, in our time.

Tony Lloyd,
Mount Stewart

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