Insect population decline

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by origin, May 16, 2011.

  1. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Well not surprisingly with the colony collapse problem I lost my 2 hives this winter. I am not paying for any more bees since they have only lasted for 1 year in the past 2 seasons. I decided to collect a wild swarm like I have in the past but that is rather challenging since there are almost no bees in the area. I have a cherry tree that is a bee magnet, I would assume that if there are hives within 2 miles I would have bees on the tree. I have seen 2 honey bees this year, just 2 - it's crazy!

    Something else I have noticed which is giving me the creeps. There are no flies in my area. By flies I mean house flies, plenty of damn biting black flies. Typically in the early spring on the first warm days the flies will come out and cover the house on the south side. Not this year. I also have 2 horses, and this time of year they should have lots of flys on them - there are almost none I have seen maybe 10 flies the whole spring. Lastly we usually have a large number of wasps. I have seen several wasp but there is clearly a large decrease in their population too.

    I do not know if this is a local thing due to some sort of weather condition over the winter that caused a die off or what. I live in upstate NY and I was wondering if anyone else is seeing this type insect population decreases.

    Thanks.
     
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  3. milkweed Valued Senior Member

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    Wild honeybees are just escaped domestics. Honeybees are not native to the USA. No real point in collecting a wild swarm except for money. You wont get better genetics. As I understand it, more and more of the cause of this seems to be a combination of factors, weather, mites and other parasites, with newer pesticides having a greater impact than earlier research indicated. A perfect storm of factors.
    It was a hard winter combined with a lot of areas experiencing high water. Everything here is behind about two/three weeks (MN/WI) due to the cold. There was a huge number of Colletes 2 weeks ago then the temps fell and their numbers decreased. Halictidae were just beginning at the same time the temps fell.

    http://bugguide.net/node/view/8267/tree

    So basically no I havent seen a decline, I have seen a delay in appearance.
     
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  5. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    Sounds local, we've got...a reasonable amount of bees down here. Usual amount of besieging wasps, flies, giant flying terrorist cockroaches....although...now that you mention it, I haven't seen a lot of lovebugs.

    When the kale flowered in late Feb and all through Mar, there were bees all over them.

    But I think the lovebugs will be along presently. These things:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    ((yes, they are having sex, and they fly like that, too)

    Light on mosquitoes, we're in drought.

    How's your rainfall in yankeeland?
    What sort of agricultural stuff are you downwind of, and do you treat for bee mites?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
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  7. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    What area of the country do you live in?
     
  8. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    I noticed a decline in bees last year in our area . Wasps were every where though . Almost epidemic proportions so I can't comment on other insects. Seemed to be plentiful by observation of the human eye . The bees being far and few between was obvious . There was another type of bee other than the European honeybee that was flying around pollinating. It was more yellow and somewhat smaller . I never noticed it before , but because of the almost absence of the normal honey bee I did . I don't know how the bee keepers did last year but the year before I had heard Colony Collapse was under control and bees were doing better . Could of been propaganda. Bee populations is in my opinion something to keep an eye on.
     
  9. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    We have the oposite problem in Adelaide, we have a massive infestation of crickets and locust even as low as the outskirts of Adelaide itself.

    Thing that BUGS me (pun intended) is that no matter what I seem to do I can't get ladybugs. Have a terible afid problem on my roses and I would rather not spray but there are never any ladybugs around
     
  10. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,920
    Correct. My motivation for collecting a wild swarm is purely financial.
     
  11. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    9,920
    Thanks for the information - now I can enjoy the lack of house flies. Now if this local decrease in insect populatioin includes deer flies and biting horse flies this will be horse heaven.
     
  12. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    9,920
    Central southern NY near Elmira.
     
  13. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    Next year I want to buy bees for a top bar hive...I just didn't have $120 for it. I'm going to try to prepay with a local beekeeper for they usual queen with three pounds.

    I understand top bar hives have less yield, but the bees do better? Plus easier to work, and easier to build?
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    Anybody got stinkbugs? We have an infestation of them here in the Washington DC region. They're driving people crazy. No natural enemies, pesticide-resistant, long periods of dormancy.

    Old people always chuckled when they told me that some day I'd be old like them and my sense of smell would weaken. I never realized that I'd be glad!
     
  15. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    Lock Leven Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California , Backpacking , The time was about 1986 ? Yellow jackets every square inch in the air . It was enough to drive a person mad with all the buzzing going on . The only relief was to swim out to the middle of the lake or raft out there . The weather was hotter than normal. When we got back to Sacramento we learned it was an epidemic and several people were killed that were gambling at Lake Tahoe.

    It was like FAAA______OOck. Can you believe that ?
     
  16. milkweed Valued Senior Member

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    1,654
  17. Michael Tidwell Registered Member

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    1
    I am seeing the same thing. I live in California, and even though I live on the edge of huge wilderness, I have seen drastic declines of insects. Before I had rich assemblies of insects, and now my porch attracts next to nothing, even on warm summer nights. My winter moths have almost completely disappeared as well. The declines appear to be across the board. It feels like something big is going on.

    The only thing that touches all the earth's surface at the same time is the atmosphere. We live a time of unprecedented carbon flow into the atmosphere. It would not be a great surprise if such a large and rapid shift in surface chemistry was too much for the insects to handle. Acid levels have increased, the ratio of N/C has declined, micro-faunas have changed. Each of these in and of itself is a strong signal. Reports of declining insect populations are now known from all over the world.

    Even in town, the flies that I grew up just arent there anymore. Inside my office, where the doors are always opening and closing, I have swatted but a single fly. Something is not right.

    Best Mike
     
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    24,270
    It's not local or temporary:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/where-have-all-insects-gone
    and it can be seen in proxy species, such as insect eating birds:
    http://www.dw.com/en/dramatic-decline-in-european-birds-linked-to-industrial-agriculture/a-38699308
    and the discussion has moved from "is it happening" to "how best to measure it, what is its nature specifically"
    https://blog.pensoft.net/2016/12/05...g-via-malaise-trap-samples-and-dna-barcoding/

    I and others who pay attention to large moths noticed a sharp decline many years ago - a canary in the mine, so to speak, as many large moths are on the one hand readily visible and easily recognized, and on the other hand sparse and vulnerable compared with smaller bugs. Also, as a group they hail from diverse habitat including common urban as well as rural settings - if one or two vanish, that's one thing. If they all go, that's another story.

    They've all gone, pretty much, as of ten or fifteen years ago. Even the once ubiquitous Polyphemous moth in North America, a generalist that readily comes to lights and hatches in concentrations once or twice (latitude) per year, is a rare and local sighting in the center of its former abundance. Where five or six at a gas station light or restaurant window was once a common yearly observation, I've averaged less than one individual moth sighted per year total over the past fifteen years - and I had a job driving to gas stations at night for five years, rural and urban, in the upper Mississippi River valley. They simply aren't around as they used to be.

    Neither are the Catacolas, the Sphinxes, the Cecropias and other silkworm moths, and so forth. They aren't gone completely, just rare and notable where once they swarmed.

    I don't think people realize how common these spectacular moths used to be. Like the Chestnut trees, they don't leave a hole.
     
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    24,270
    Side note: some people have mentioned swarms of pests.

    As a general ecological rule of thumb, predators are more strongly affected by general knockdowns than prey - they are more rare, slower reproducing, more likely to get bottlenecked or even eliminated over large areas, etc. Meanwhile, pests tend to be prey species, low on the food chain with high reproduction rates and so forth. So general holocaust quite often leads to specific population booms of bugs you don't want, which have evolved adaptations to the knockdown factor more rapidly, had larger reserve populations to begin with, and now have no predators.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    24,270
    btw: People who grew up in the modern sparse US moth regime might not think failure to see them is notable - having the impression that they are small fuzzy things flying around in the middle of the night, something people might easily overlook.

    Example: thirty or forty years ago, for a ten day span in local late spring anywhere east of the 100th in the US,
    anyone putting gas in their car after dark, walking down a street lined with trees and yards and a streetlight every so often, walking into a store or bar or motel with a neon lit marquee, or sitting near their living room window after dark, was very likely to have one or more of these flapping and sitting and flying in circles within about ten feet of them, or right on the frame and glass of the nearest window.
    https://photos.smugmug.com/Wildlife-Portfolios/Moths/i-bQc3HBd/0/1634c523/S/7871 Cecropia Moth-S.jpg
    It's the size of your hand, it looks like a red and white tarantula with giant wings, and it's drawn to the edges of the light right about eye level. You aren't going to miss it, if it's there.

    Here's its caterpillar, as once commonly found in the bushes near the porch or front step by most rural or suburban children at one time or another, back when:
    http://northernwoodlands.org/images/articles/moth3b.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.co...ed17665410887--a-bugs-life-animal-kingdom.jpg Full grown it's about the size of a hotdog, maybe a bit smaller.

    If you didn't see one of them, or if you did right along side, you might run across this: http://www.breadwig.com/photography...terfly-lunar-moth-photo-breadwig.com-zoom.jpg
    Or this:
    https://photonaturalist.files.wordp...phemus-skogstjarna-carlton-co-mn-img_7850.jpg
    And essentially every petunia patch in the neighborhood would have one these, in the late afternoon or early evening:
    http://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/images/hummingbirds/hummingbird-moth-04012013.jpg
    About 4+ inches span, hovers like a hummingbird and often mistaken for one.

    These were common. No special search at all necessary. And that doesn't touch the Catacolas, or the night-flying sphinxes - dozens of different kinds.

    They really are missing.
     
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    They're not declining, they're simply moved.

    They're all right here in my backyard and kitchen.
     
  22. river Valued Senior Member

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    9,406
    They really are missing .

    Noticed the same thing , not the same insects , but the same absence of ....
     

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