The insect apocalypse
We can’t be sure, but in terms of numbers, we may have lost 50% or more of our insects since 1970 – it could be much more.Prof Dave Goulson
In 2019, we had the pleasure of listening to Prof Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex speak about the “unnoticed insect apocalypse”. Those of us of a certain age will well remember how regularly we had to clean our car bonnets and windscreens of insects that unfortunately had collided with our car. How many times to you have to do that today?
His report suggests that half of all insects may have been lost since 1970 as a result of the destruction of nature and heavy use of pesticides. The report said 40% of the one million known species of insect are facing extinction. In the UK alone, 23 bee and wasp species have become extinct in the last century, while the number of pesticide applications has approximately doubled in the last 25 years.
In organic gardening insects can be pests but by growing a diverse range of plants we do not get the plague attacks that monoculture encourages. By encouraging biodiversity both in cultivated crops and in accompanying wildflowers we can attract many different predators which keeps the whole system in balance. Slugs are eaten by birds greenfly are cleaned up by blue tits, tiny cabbage white caterpillars are cropped by wasps and so it goes. We grow companion plants which can distract pests or even to attract the predators we need.