Prevent the “Insect Crisis” by getting rid of your lawn

The rising sea levels, unpredictable weather patterns and melting glaciers caused by climate change can drastically affect not only the population of polar bears but also ice crawlers, a family of tiny, wingless insects that live on top of a mountain and on the edges of glaciers.

According to Dr. May Berenbaum, head of the Entomology Department at the University of Illinois and one of the world’s leading insect experts, these ice crawlers highly depend on cold and extreme habitat. “They don’t make great posters for victims of climate change, but they are in great danger,” she said.

Berenbaum has led a public discussion about the importance of pollinators and emerging academic studies pointing out the rapid decline of some insect species, a trend that has been labelled as the “insect apocalypse.” Also called the unnoticed apocalypse, it’s where insect populations are falling but no one seems to notice it.

Berenbaum cited a number of studies which justifies that the population of insects are drastically declining. A study published in 2017 found that there was a 75% decrease in the biomass of flying insects across Germany over a period of 27 years. Another study recorded that the global butterfly population was reduced by 35% over 40 years.

Insects’ contribution to global economy

Insects are usually easy to ignore because they are small. However the rest of the earth depends on insects one way or another. One-third of all food consumed by humans are pollinated by insects like bees, butterflies, and other insect pollinators. They contribute at least $217 billion to the global economy. 

Host animal species like birds and many species of mammals also depend on insects as their prey, collectively consuming an estimated 550 million tonnes of creepy crawlies each year.

An increase in the use of pesticides has a significant impact on the situation insects are facing today. However, the loss of habitat due to climate change is the main reason for their declining population.

How can we save our pollinators

Berenbaum suggested that people should get rid of their lawns, because they are just biological deserts, as they are populated mainly by grass, which contains pesticides, and they do not support a lot of biodiversity.

Instead, plant native flowers which will provide nectar and pollen for pollinators. It is important to leave leaf litter in place because dead plant material plays a vital role in the development of healthy soil and it also protects insects from cold weather. Also avoid using electric bug zappers because they do not eliminate mosquitoes yet  kill a lot of important species of insects.

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