Scientists Warn of Urgency Action Desperately Needed To Avert Insect Declines

by Tony Orman

Nineteen scientists from European countries such as Germany and Netherlands, USA, South Africa, Australia, Philippines and Brazil have given a strong warning about dramatic declines of insects.
The warning in February 2020 and published in “Biological Conservation” seemed to get little publicity despite the scientists deep concerted concern.
“We need immediate action.The current extinction crisis is deeply worrisome. Yet, what we know is only the tip of the iceberg.”
Despite the known threats and consequences of insect extinction, decision-makers and civil society are only now becoming aware of the scale of the problem. Conservation efforts have largely been focused on charismatic megafauna, especially birds and mammals, with little thought on ecosystem connectivity.
“ Even within insects, some taxa have been favoured, such as butterflies and, more recently, pollinators.”
Legislation and agreements in the US (Endangered Species Act) and Europe clearly reflect such biases.
 “Partly to blame for these biases is a lack of capacity and data, which, in the view of policymakers, leads to a lack of funding, which in turn, feeds back into lack of capacity and data, in a continuous cycle”.
Solutions include the removal of the root causes of the problem, the indirect drivers, as essential components of a transformative change of our economy and society. 
“Many solutions are now available to support insect populations at sustainable levels, especially through preserving and recovering natural habitats, eliminating deleterious agricultural practices including harmful pesticides, implementing measures for avoiding or eliminating the negative impacts of invasive species, taking aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and curbing the deleterious effects of overexploitation of many taxa.”
Multiple countries are already adopting concrete measures for averting further insect population depletions. As an example, many European countries are banning or phasing-out glyphosate-based weed killers. 
“Solutions are now available – we must act upon them,” said the scientists.
Footnote: The link is “Scientists’ warning to humanity on insect extinctions”: 

, Scientists Warn of Urgency Action Desperately Needed To Avert Insect Declines

A caddis fly hatch by a  USA trout stream. Insect hatches on New Zealand trout streams have shown dramatic declines according to
anecdotal reports. People comment on the lack of moths and insects in car headlights at night and around street lights and homes after dark
compared to past decades. Even blowflies are noticeably fewer..

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18 Responses to Scientists Warn of Urgency Action Desperately Needed To Avert Insect Declines

  1. Dave Rhodes says:

    I travelled through the Aorangi State Forest the other day, from Te Kopi to Waikuku – about 25kms.
    During the whole of my travels, I did not see nor hear a single bird.
    In the Huripi Stream, I counted a few dragonflies and later on a solitary bumblebee, and just in one solitary sheltered spot, a deafening chorus of cicadas was the only indication of life during my whole trip.
    The truly sad side of 1080 – let alone what glyphosate is doing to both our agricultural areas and of course our world-beating cancer levels

  2. Nicolas Lorenz says:

    Many fertilisers widely used in agriculture, can affect insect populations indirectly, via impacts on the composition or quality of plant resources, on structural habitat properties or causing soil acidification and through eutrophication. While effects of fertilizer use can be positive in short term for some insects targeted, other beneficial insects get hit even with negative effects on most insects.
    Entomologist Mike Mead warned of the long term ill ecological effects on the forest ecosystem of aerial 1080 poison at Whitecliffs, Taranaki. 1080 was developed in 1927 as an insecticide.

  3. Charles Henry says:

    Is the insect decline purely in the Western World, with the likes of Monsanto foisting their poisons on everyone?

    If so, then it is likely the west that will perish, but places such as South America, Africa, India and China would be mostly unaffected. Even central Australia would seem to be unlikely to succumb.

    So just where is the exact problem likely to eventuate? Or is this truly global?

    Will non-OECD Countries eventually prevail?

  4. pete says:

    Too little too late will occur again. The massive use of pesticide spray here in Marlborough and other growing regions is definitely helping to rush in the extinction of some insects.
    How much help has the embattled near extinct short haired bumblebee now found only in NZ and in massive decline? Next to nothing except for a few write ups.
    Humans seem too dumb to realise we are rushing in our own species demise with the loss of insect life.
    I have been commenting for years on the loss of insect life in my region. From the fly to the grasshopper and the once annoying moth. It is so obvious our massive spray regime here on our so called world class wine producing vineyards ( which we all know it they are not ) has killed all the insects off. So what is the over spray and spray drift doing to the 2 legged species intent on wiping out the very creatures we need to exist. Well according to the experts it doesnt affect humans in small doses and the spray drift is contained even when they are spraying on windy days right beside our schools.
    How bleedin dumb can we the be. Money over the environment is going to be the downfall of eventually our planet not just the insects. Time to wake up!!!!!

  5. Rex N. Gibson says:

    As an Ecologist I am appalled that this is not a major concern for DOC. Perhaps DOC does mean Dept of Chemicals as many of its critics say. This is a major issue in an area I love; the area just below the Waitaki dam at Kurow. Radway Allen’s classics treatise pointed out that nearly 100% of trout diet is insects and other arthropods, at least until they are 3 year olds or in damaged environments. It is an overused phrase but beware “Trout are the canary in the mine” when it comes to environmental health in New Zealand.
    God save the insects – DOC will not!
    We cannot solve environmental problems with chemicals – full stop.
    Rex N. Gibson QSM

  6. Albert Francis says:

    I don’t think DoC understands ecology and food chains. The disappearance of insects will impact on insectivorous birds. Chemicals all knock back invertebrates e.g skinks. I notice declines in kingfishers and think, when did you last hear a shining cuckoo’s distinctive call? Both birds are native but DoC does not seem to be concerned because DoC does not comprehend.
    I notice less eels in rivers – native fish.
    Invertebrate life in streams is less – i.e. eel food, native fish food, trout food.
    But then DoC is dowsing whole watersheds with toxins.

  7. Ken Sims says:

    It’s called the sixth mass extinction event.
    It isn’t confined to insects, nor completely due to the toxins we are flooding the earth with.
    It is going to get a lot, lot worse.

  8. Pulsar Pete says:

    DOC for 1080. Ecan for annual aerial spraying of up to 5x label dose annually over thousands of ha of braided river beds. Industrial farming for organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids, and ivomec worm drench. A tough task getting any of these groups on board.

  9. Pulsar Pete says:

    Correction Ecan sprays 5x label dose of glyphosate annually on river beds. A chemical not to be uses near waterways.

  10. Dave says:

    I fully endorse what other people are saying but there is a bigger picture. But if mentioned I am called a conspirator and shouted down. I am concerned about the so-called Chemtrails or what is now called Geoengineering. This is the dropping of alloy from planes. Yes, it is happening and is funded by Bill Gates. It is now found that trees are not reseeding and so we have to use GMO seeds. If you don’t believe me look at what is happening in Hawaii. They can not use the seeds to grow Paw Paw but have to use GMO seeds which is another type of control. All the tree bark has alloy in it and is rotting. Soil tests have shown the growing amounts of alloy in our soils . The other concern I have is eletromanic interference from 2,3,4 and now 5G transmissions which are killing birdlife, along with other species. This is very serious as other planets I read that have lost their magnetic fields have died. The North magnetic pole is shifting at a greater rate .

  11. Les Kelly says:

    If anyone would like an insight into DOC, Forest & Bird, The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the ‘Green Party’, ( now there’s an oxymoron) etc; on the subject of 1080, I have spent the last 13 years trying to get them to change their ways. I have written a book titled DUPED! ‘The True Story Behind Predator Free New Zealand’ order from it exposes the lies, deceit the treachery and their poisonous agendas. Les Kelly

  12. Brian Swale says:

    Findings, the amount of fluoroacetate in tea is far less than the 2-5 parts per billion that we have been quoting. But still present in well more than “parts per trillion”.

    If you brew tea with 5 times as much tea as usual, in half the usual size of cup, you could get 1.2 parts per billion fluoroacetate.But nobody does that.

    “An intake of three cups of tea per day is likely to result in fluoroacetate exposure in the range of 0.017 to 0.1 ng/kg bw/day. Whether such exposure presents a risk of long-term or chronic adverse effects on human health remains unknown.” [note TDI tolerable daily intake is 0.03 micrograms/kg, or 300ng/kg]

    9. INSECTS

    * The highest level of 1080 poison ever found in the soil or leaf litter after a 1080 drop is 200 times LOWER than the amount needed to kill a NZ native insect. Source: O’Halloran K, Jones D, Booth L, Fisher P. 2005. Ecotoxicity of sodium monofluoroacetate (compound 1080) to soil organisms. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24; 1211 to 1218.
    * 1080 and Soil. 1080 residues from uneaten baits leach into the soil where they are degraded into non-toxic metabolites by soil organisms including bacteria Pseudomonas and the common soil fungus Fusarium solani. Source; Eason C.T., Wright G.R, Fitzgerald H. (1992). Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) Water residue analysis after large scale possum control. (PDF) New Zealand Journal of Ecology 16 (1), 47 – 49.

    10. WATER

    * Of 2442 water samples tested by Landcare Research between 1990 and May 2010 96.5% had no detectable 1080
    * Of all the samples taken over 20 years only 6 were equal to, or above the Ministry of Health level for drinking water and none of these came from drinking water supplies. [6]
    * Of 592 samples taken from human or stock drinking supplies, only four contained detectable 1080 residues at 0.1ppb (1 sample) and 0.2 ppb (3 samples) – all well below the Ministry of Health level of 2 ppb. [7]

    * Trials show that any aquatic and land plants that uptake 1080 rapidly metabolised it within a week. [8]

    * The maximum amount of 1080 residue allowed in drinking water by the Ministry of Health is 2.0 ppb. This has never been breached.

    * As an indication of how stringent this regulation is, at the 2.0ppb level a 60 kg person would need to drink: 60,000 litres of water for a lethal dose of 1080.

    * 2,537 water samples have been tested between 1990 and 2011. Just 0.24% were found with traces of 1080 above the Ministry of Health’s tolerance level of 2 parts per Billion. NONE of the 0.24% came from human or stock drinking water supplies. SAMPLING (by Landcare Research, from both drinking water supplies and natural waterways) TAKES PLACE within 24 hours of a 1080 operation. Conclusion; water is safe after a 1080 operation.

    • Charles Henry says:

      According to Wikipedia, the Scientific Method is defined:

      The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprise

      Now whilst talk of measurements of this and measurements of that sound impressive, starting from first principles of careful observation, my personal observation is that following massive drops of 1080 into an eco-system, most fauna dies – it’s a simple, non-disputable fact.

      Deaths even include non-target species as reported – even by those champions of mass 1080 application DOC. Certainly, the silent forests bear witness to the effectiveness of this Class A1 poison.

      I also observe that New Zealand has some of the highest cancer rates in the world. Again simple observation.

      Now, using the true Scientific Method, I put 2 and 2 together and come up with the same conclusion any fair-minded, intelligent, sceptical person would and produce a hypothesis that 1080 is detrimental to the health and wellbeing not only of the native flora and fauna but perhaps our whole population.

      Now to go about validating the hypothesis with independent research instead of the government’s “paid for” science.

      • Dave Rhodes says:

        Well, as Chas implies, there’s some real dodgy pseudo-science going on here.
        Like Chas, I know from personal observation that 1080 baits do not break down quickly in mountain-stream water. They might in tepid water in the lab, but with most mountain water at 4ºC, it takes forever.
        So measuring for 1080 a mere 24 hours after the application is bound to reveal bugger all. Added to that, just what are these “scientists” actually looking for? If testing for fluoroacetate in flesh it’s no wonder they find little if anything – the body has already metamorphosed fluoroacetate to fluorocitrate – the actual poison that kills anything that uses oxygen.
        Yep, if you don’t look, you won’t find anything embarrassing – paid-for science to appease those funding the “research”

  13. Frank Murphy says:

    One for you Trout academics? to think on? What is hard to explain is why the Trout are in such great condition this year???

  14. Michael Gregg says:

    Frank – good to hear from you here.

    Against the flow … I was up a Marlborough high country stream for a few days earlier in January. The hatches were ridiculously thick and extended with a phenomenal amount of food coming down the bubble lines from the rapids & pocket water into the long glides. Perhaps what made this phenomenon so enjoyable to experience was the lack of similar action in front country river systems. It seems we’re driven further and further into the back country to experience the previously everyday thrills of freshwater angling.

    You are right about the excellent condition of trout this year. No ‘Mouse Year’ but solid 7-8lb fish are frequenting many waterways. Was it the benign winter and spring in many parts of the country? SI West Coast is forecast for lower than normal rain this summer so Feb/March should be stunning after a big weather event in January already. And the fishing down there has been incredible. Less so on the SI East Coast.

    I’d love to get up to your cabin some day soon. Despite the reduced hatches, I’m sure the Ruakituri is still stunning. Take care.

  15. Tony Orman says:

    Funny thing, insects at dusk on windscreen are noticeably more this summer after virtual disappearance over recent years.
    It is more by accident than design, but why? Marlborough’s has an expanding monoculture of vineyards and grapes – and spraying.
    Nature can have cycles in populations. I’m still puzzled.

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