Insect Armageddon? It’s Here, But Not For Pests
August 5, 2019
The world seems larger - and better - during childhood. It was, I am sure, a period of discovery; for all of us. Each boring afternoons were opportunities for me to go outdoors to play with my dog and enjoy some fresh air, sunshine, and - oddly - look at some insects.
My friends would wonder at the many different insects found in our garden. We would catch dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, spiders, and ladybugs. We would keep them in boxes, not aware that we were treating them inhumanely. Eventually, they would be normal fixtures, and their presence just as normal as the plants that adorned our garden. This is how it was in my old hometown Durham.
Just recently, I went back to see old friends - friends who chose to stay. They look different now, but still are the same, warm people I grew up with. What was not there was the presence of the insects of my youth? dragonflies, beetles, spiders, and ladybugs? They were probably there, but not enough for me to notice.
On hindsight, insects are an important part of the ecosystem. They help in pollination and are a vital part of the food chain. It is a common misconception that insects are pests and that we are better off without them. The truth is, only a small percentage of insects are pests; the rest are friends that we all benefit from.
The Insect Population Is On A Decline
This is the reason why a dwindling insect population is of great concern to scientists, who noticed the decline. Recently, it was discovered that over the last 20 years, the population of monarch butterflies decreased by 90 percent; bumblebees' population decreased by 87 percent. This drop-in insect population is what is now being called the insect Armageddon.
Kids nowadays do not know the difference, because each generation has a new norm. They will probably never know the joy we once had with insects when we were their age, and to them, this is perfectly normal. There will be a time when the next generations would be frightened with insects simply because they will be so rare.
Perhaps the biggest reason for why not everyone really cares about the diminishing number of insects is that they are not considered as valuable as, let us say, plants and animals. The few bad apples - the pests - have given the entire insect population a bad name. I actually see thousands of ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and flies, and all I want to do is swat them silly. We all want them to disappear on the face of the earth, but the same cannot be said to the rest of the insect population.
Is Development To Blame?
One factor could be the loss of open spaces that used to have trees. Forests to have dwindled due to the expansion of human spaces. Parks are being replaced in favor of commercial buildings, apartments, and malls. Trees and wildlife are now confined to special places where people probably pay to see them. We thus remove the insects’ natural habitat, all in the name of progress. Climate change is also a big problem that all of us, including insects, face and have contributed to the insects’ decline.
The Soil Is Becoming More Toxic
There is also a major study suggesting that the land is now several times more toxic than it was a couple of decades ago. Neonicotinoid pesticides are primarily to blame.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are pesticides associated with nicotine. These are toxic to insects more than they are to animals and humans. It is a popular insecticide because of its water solubility. This quality allows it to be applied to the soil and be absorbed by the plants. Now, new studies have pointed to its toxicity to some beneficial insects, and researchers have recommended its phasing out from the shelves.
According to the journal PLOS ONE, a team composed of biologists, toxicologists, and pesticide experts examined the insecticide levels in agricultural lands from the years 1992 to 2014. They found that the acute toxicity loading of insecticides in agricultural lands in the United States went up 48 times higher in 2014 as compared to the 1992 levels. The biggest jump was when the neonicotinoid pesticides first started to be used, which was in the mid 2000s. Its effects are found to remain in the environment and often kills insects months and even years after its application.
But The Pests Persist
There are 400,000 species of bugs, 10,000 species of ants, 1 million species of flies, 3,000 species of termites, 4,600 species of cockroach, and 3,500 species of mosquitoes. All of these probably total to hundreds of millions of individual insects; that is why it is so hard how they can be considered on the decline. Each household in America probably has at least one of these insect types, whether indoors or outdoors.
While there are beneficial insects, there are also pests. These pests do nothing but cause damage to our household. They are also disease carriers and are willing to transmit these diseases to humans.
Let us name some of these pests, and how to get rid of them:
I will put mosquitoes on top of this list because of its importance. Mosquitoes are known as the most dangerous creatures on earth, accounting for millions of deaths annually all throughout the world. It has been said that they have caused more deaths than all the wars in history combined. This tiny insect is capable of spreading different diseases, including dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, and elephantiasis. Female adult mosquitoes are the ones who do the biting, since they are the ones equipped with the necessary mouthparts for biting. Male mosquitoes feed on nectar. Mosquitoes like to breed in standing water.
To get rid of mosquitoes, removing old items that can hold water around your house is very important. This will make them move elsewhere. Use mosquito repellent, and choose the ones containing the active ingredient DEET. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going outdoors for added protection.
Cockroaches are another one of those disease-carrying insects. They live in filth, and they are probably the filthiest creatures on the planet. They eat anything: rotten meat, excrement, dead animals, and anything that can be found in your trash cans. They transmit diseases such as typhoid fever, salmonellosis, typhoid fever, and can cause allergies and asthma.
If some insects are going to be extinct, it may be safe to say that you can cross out cockroaches on that list. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and will not go away anytime soon, because killing them is very difficult. They can survive for 1 month without food and 1 week without water. It can even live for a week without its head.
Cockroaches enter your homes to look for food, so the best way to get rid of them is to maintain cleanliness in your house. Wipe any food and drink spills. Do not let unwashed dishes and kitchen utensils in the sink. Place a cover on your garbage bins. Put your food in sealed containers. Dispose of your garbage properly and regularly. All of these things will greatly reduce their food source, giving them no reason to stay in your house.
Flies are probably up there with the cockroaches in terms of filthiness. Like cockroaches, flies eat anything; the same things actually. Due to their feeding habits, flies carry with them a lot of bacteria and viruses. They are not just a nuisance, they are also disease vectors. Among the diseases they transmit are typhoid fever, salmonellosis, and food poisoning.
As a control measure, regularly dispose of your garbage. Put your food in sealed containers. Wipe off any food and drink spills.
Ants are known as hardworking insects. They save enough for the rainy days, but their hard work oftentimes affects us in the process. How many times have they attacked our food, way before we can enjoy them? And I am quite sure we have all been bitten by them at some point in our lives. They have, in the process, become pests themselves.
To avoid being infested by ants, place your food in sealed containers. Wash dishes and kitchen utensils at once. Wipe off food and drink spills, as well as bread crumbs on the table.
If you have these unwanted pests in your home and you cannot deal with them anymore, be sure to contact the best pest control management in the Carolinas, Go-Forth Pest Control.
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