Alarming insect declines

Over the course of the past five years, many scientific papers have been written about insect declines – some simply reporting patterns in observational data, while others have adopted rigorous monitoring combined with measurements of potential factors contributing to shifts in insect diversity and abundance.

There are debates ongoing between entomologists and conservationists as to whether insects are in decline locally or globally, or in decline at all. (My professional opinion would be probably yes) Some have argued that terminology is too alarmist, while others argue that alarming trends call for alarming phrases. (My personal opinion is that both camps are equally right or wrong but that this bickering and fingerpointing over who’s more right or wrong is probably not the most useful discussion)

This evening I made my own alarming contribution to insect decline. And alarming trends need alarming phrases.

As I was manoeuvring my van out of the field site where I was doing field work today, my electronic dashboard wouldn’t stop blaring. Red lights were blinking and the car made loud alarm noises. What??

Upon closer inspection, a hoverfly tried to kiss, and spread its bodily fluids out all over my van’s front distance sensor. Let’s be clear that this poor bastard, along with many of his friends that were sticking to other parts of the front of my ride, did not survive the confrontation. It may not have been a strong contribution to the global insect decline, but it was alarming….

A syrphid fly spread out his hemolymph on my front sensor in great excitement. Splat.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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