Let us Protect Insects from Possible Destruction
Some insects are a human bother, they hover around our personal spaces, sting, bite and are disease vectors. Maybe we would fantasize of a world without insects. However, others are industrious, working restlessly to sustain the ecosystem, so invaluable that the human agroindustry is pegged on them. In essence, there are about a million named insects globally with possibilities of ten million unknown species.
A recent study has revealed that over 40% of insect species face the threat of extinction. Among them, butterflies, bees, beetles, dragonflies, wasps and moths. A human future without insects is doomed, calling for collective actions to reverse the trend. In actual accounts, intensive agricultural practices contributed to 46.6% of the loss. Biological factors- species and pathogens - led to a 16.4% drop in insect population, while urbanization accounted for 10.7%. Further, deforestation led to 8.8% decline, river line alterations 6.3% and global warming 5%.
To catch up with the food demand, farmers have opted for industrial farming that is characteristic of artificial fertilizers, pathogens and synthetic chemicals for high yields, fast maturity and quality produce. Monoculture has replaced conventional farm practices such as mixed farming and crop rotation. The result is mass habitat loss compounded with pollution from much extensively used pesticides. Further, the climate change cataclysm has relatively increased the world temperatures.
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Herbicides also wipe out most dicots and wild flowers that in the past accounted for about one million tons of uncultivated seeds. Consequently, birds are deprived both of their protein rich insects - and fatty seeds sending their population and that of same trophic level organisms – frogs and fish into a shrinking roller coaster. Declining insect population translates into lesser pollination, a hitting hard reality. Decomposers such as houseflies and mosquitoes, clean up the ecosystem ensuring nutrients are continuously recycled.
Insects extinction would lead to a quiet suffocation of the entire ecosystem. Researchers are advocating for reduction in pesticide usage. They urge for sustainable, more eco-friendly practices.
One such intervention is Integrated Pest Management which uses modern technologies and traditional agricultural practices. It encompasses naturally controlling the pest and weeds and crop rotation using pesticides as a last resort. Organic farming is being sought as an alternative, with major scores on protecting biodiversity, reversing climate change and makes sense health wise. Permaculture is also a viable conservation centered farming method. There is the need to decrease land demand and energy by using less power and ditching red meat, embracing private gardens, planting wild flowers and rewilding public parks.
This article is by Arnold Muthanga and was first published on 29th June, 2019 by Saturday Standard