Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)
  • Insect numbers
  • Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    In the last couple of years, perhaps since insecticide bans have been in the headlines, I seem to have noticed more insects in the air whilst cycling on the same routes. My local routes don’t go through that many different farmers’ land, and most of it is pastoral so it might just be some kind of local effect, but it certainly seems noticeable. The headlines I can find seem to be all doom and gloom about the whole UK population in the last 20 years, but has anyone else noticed a change in the last year or two? It could be something to do with the weather of course.

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    If I think back 20 years, I used to do a lot of motorway driving and to Europe and having to regularly stop to clear the fly-splatter from my windscreen. These days, you might get one or two that a quick squish of the washers will clear.

    We have to visit some relatives in the south in April – one of the first things I noticed getting out the car was a smell like fly spray in the air.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Free Member

    Recent weather has been perfect for insects around here. Had to zip my jersey up the other day because it was filling up with flying beetles. 🙂

    But swallowing a few more bugs does not make a summer, as they say.

    https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2022/may/uks-flying-insects-have-declined-60-in-20-years.html

    Hopefully more science like this will make a difference. 🙂

    Premier Icon MSP
    Full Member

    Some species have certainly rebounded since greater pesticide controls were introduced. I don’t think I had ever encountered Cockchafer’s until about a decade ago, now every few years there a massive numbers. Unfortunately also ticks seem to have benefited.

    I still suspect though that modern farming creates a “mono culture” where the habitat really isn’t suitable for many/all insect species, so while some are doing well, in general diversity is suffering.

    Premier Icon thestabiliser
    Free Member

    The “windscreen effect” is very much a current thing in ecology. They’re starting to recover but from a massively low baseline, parallel with the 70 million farmland birds we lost since 1970. Slight uptick but massive changes needed to get us anywhere near pretty nicotinamide levels

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    They’re starting to recover

    Not disagreeing, but I’d like to read a link on that as I couldn’t find one.

    Premier Icon thestabiliser
    Free Member

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200423143031.htm

    Lots of uncertainty still

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Interesting.

    This showed that on average, there are fewer insects living in the grass and on the ground today than in the past — similar to the flying insects. By contrast, the number of insects living in tree canopies has, on average, remained largely unchanged.

    In my local woods which are mostly broad-leaved and surrounded by small pastoral farms (which I would assume use fewer if any insecticides, at least sprayed on) during the summer you can still stop and listen, and be surrounded by buzzing sounds everywhere.

    Premier Icon Jamz
    Free Member

    Nothing annoys me more than cycling down some quiet lane in the middle of nowhere and seeing that the local farmer has topped every single piece of verge that they can possibly reach. Endless miles of what could effectively be prime meadlow land destroyed just to satisfy their ‘neat and tidy’ OCD.

    I do think the lack of cars about for the past two years will have had a fairly large impact. Always see plenty of dead insects in the road, particularly sad when it’s things like the Peacocks which like to sun themseleves on the tarmac next to the woods. Don’t stand much chance against the Audi Q7s hurtling down the road at rush hour every day. And of course one queen bumble bee killed early in the season means one potential nest with thousands of bees gone later in the year.

    Premier Icon johnners
    Free Member

    The “windscreen effect” is very much a current thing in ecology

    Isn’t some of that going to be down to cars being aerodynamically “slippier” these days?

    Endless miles of what could effectively be prime meadlow land destroyed just to satisfy their ‘neat and tidy’ OCD

    They’re paid to do it, that’s what’ll need to change. There aren’t any farmers paying for the tractor attachment and then spending hours smashing hedges to buggery out of a love of neatness!

    Premier Icon littlerob
    Free Member

    I’ve seen articles referring to what is mentioned here as the “Windscreen Effect”. All I can say about that is that we have a VW T2 (Brazilian) and the windscreen, and indeed entire front of the van, gets in a terrible state. On a couple of recent trips I’ve had to clean the screen (with a spray and cloth) daily.

    So, on my sample (n=1) I think it has more to do with modern car aerodynamics than insect numbers.

    Premier Icon thestabiliser
    Free Member

    Possibly so but it’s a neat relatable illustration of the measured decline even with a spot of artistic licence

    Premier Icon Jamz
    Free Member

    They’re paid to do it, that’s what’ll need to change. There aren’t any farmers paying for the tractor attachment and then spending hours smashing hedges to buggery out of a love of neatness!

    I think you misunderstand the mindset of some farmers (not all, but there are plenty out there) One local to me has already topped all of his field margins not once but twice! And not just the field side but right to the hedge on the opposite side – that serves no purpose whatsoever.

    Yes I realise some councils pay farmers to cut the road side verge, which usually ends up being a flails width, but sadly there are plenty out there who go well above and beyond (the same farmer mentioned above funnily enough) and top every blade of grass in sight.

    Premier Icon Trimix
    Free Member

    I’ve not notice any resurgence of numbers. I ride a motorcycle and use the same helmet as I did decades ago. So no change in aero.

    You would have to carry some bug cleaning spray and a cloth with you if you went for a weekend ride. Now you don’t need to and I hardly have to clean the visor for weeks.

    There is an uptick when the Oilseed Rape is in flower, but nothing like it used to be years ago.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Full Member

    All I can say about that is that we have a VW T2 (Brazilian) and the windscreen, and indeed entire front of the van, gets in a terrible state.

    One drive home in a VW van, about 3-4 years ago, I was convinced that it was raining heavily despite the clear, blue sky suggesting the opposite. The rain I could hear was insects hitting the front of the van. It was a very odd experience, but only for about 3 or 4 miles.

    I can’t offer any info on insect numbers, but I have swallowed more while riding this year than for a few years, and have noticed a lot more bats in the last few years, which are obviously linked to certain insects.

    Premier Icon stingmered
    Full Member

    Whether numbers are up or down (strongly suspect the latter) everybody needs to get involved with this to help generate some real data and findings:

    Bugs Matter

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    Hopefully things like No Mow May will help. If the council would stop nuking all the roadside weeds with weed killer that would help…

    Premier Icon fenlander
    Free Member

    Year-to-year variation far more likely to be to do with weather – colder vs milder winter, wetter vs drier spring etc.

    Although there were restrictions on neonicotinoids, DEFRA quietly made exceptions, so we are far from being in a “post-neonic era”…

    Premier Icon asbrooks
    Full Member

    I actively plant to attract the bees in my garden. At times the garden sounds like a race track with all the bees buzzing around. This year though it’s noticeably quiet.

    Out riding is another matter – blooming horse flies

    Premier Icon smiffy
    Free Member

    DEFRA cannot make exceptions. It has not the powers. A government being sponsored by Tate & Lyle, however…

    Premier Icon susepic
    Free Member

    Bugs significantly down….

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/05/flying-insect-numbers-have-plunged-by-60-since-2004-gb-survey-finds

    We’ve not had wasps in our semirural garden last couple of years

    Govt allowing neonicotinoids again, we are destroying our ecosystems…..
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/14/uk-charities-condemn-betrayal-of-allowing-bee-killing-pesticide-in-sugar-beet-crops

    Premier Icon bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Topping hedges – yes the council pays a flail’s width (or rise) from the road. In the rise case (i.e. hedge not set back from the road), if not cut higher then it will cause problems for passing vehicles – reducing the width available for passing, causing people to drive in the middle of the road, reducing limit point of visibility on corners, and making the road impassable for lorries and large farm machinery without damage. If the field-side isn’t cut then it enroaches onto the area available for crops/grazing, or damages machinery getting close to the edge. Cutting the hedge encourages it to grow out more densely within itself, thus being a better barrier to keep animals from escaping. If the hedge isn’t cut every couple of years then it develops thick branches which cannot be cut by a hedgecutter and requires less efficient methods e.g. man with chainsaw. Also top for visibility and safety of pulling out of fields onto the road when driving machinery (imagine pulling onto the road in your car while sat in the boot).

    Field margins – top these because they tend to become weedy, which then spreads into the crop. Or spray them with something, generally better as a fine mist of something not-terrible and super-diluted will be better than destroying it all with a mower and also use less diesel doing it.

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop
    Free Member

    Indeed certain insects are up in number, horseflies, midges (more in our garden this year), but as mentioned above these are in certain areas and mostly numbers are down.
    Fewer swallows, martins and swifts around this year due to storms preventing them crossing and lack of habitats when they arrive and can’t find nesting sites. These birds devour insects in their millions. Maybe not enough food for even them now, who knows.
    Our garden has been thrown open to be a haven for wildlife, insects, butterflies, bees, birds and many other creatures. This is no good if our garden is an ‘Island’. Other gardeners need to ‘let go’ as we need corridors which all link up.
    Mindsets need to change. Let your own hedge grown a bit wilder (I grew some native honeysuckle from a cutting and threaded it through our hedge, it’s now flowering).
    There are fewer butterflies and moths around, which has been very noticeable to me.

Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)

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