Have you noticed in driving through rural New York, that your windshield - which once would have been covered with the remnants of countless insect collisions are now fairly clean? This observation has been made globally and linked to severe declines in insect populations.
Insects are a critical part of the ecosystem as a whole, as they are needed for the full pollination of flower plants, agricultural crops and as a food source for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and bats. As E.O Wilson, Nobel Prize winning biologist commented that whereas global ecology could adapt to the absence of primates, the destruction of insects would lead to “ecological chaos.”
Many studies of insect abundance point at global declines. For instance, Stanford researcher, Rudolpho Dirzo concluded in a 2014 study that according to global monitoring data for 452 species, there had been a 45 percent decline in invertebrate populations over the past 40 years, (Dirzo, Science, 2014) An alarming study of 63 locations in Germany (in conservation areas) showed a 76 - 82 percent decline in flying insects over the past 27 years. (Hallman, Sorg et al, PLOS, 12, 2017).
Here, in the United States, concern has focused on the decline in bees leading to the listing of 8 bee species, and the decline in butterfly and moth species. However, the declines in other flying insects, data suggests, is even more severe. And the decline of insectivorous birds has followed closely behind.
While much more research must be done-- particularly regarding the aquatic stages of the insects -- we are also well aware of the major causes of these declines. Lack of open space and appropriate nectar and host plant species, and the use of pesticides have all contributed. The successful use of land conservation and reestablishment of native plant species in the Albany Pine Bush demonstrated that addressing these factors can revive insect species. Local research shows upwards of 45 thriving native bee species in the Pine Bush Preserve.
We also know that herbicide-laden agriculture denudes the land of nectar species. We know that neonicotinoid pesticides, which contain longlasting toxins that are found in the nectar and pollen of the plants, is a contributor to the declines. Additionally, the use of seeds treated with pesticides can also poison the insects.
Albany County has been a leader in agriculture, ecosystem protection and conservation. We can enlarge these policies to include our concern for our pollinators and other insects with some pro-active steps to include insect health in our planning.
This fall a group of concerned citizens and County Legislators will introduce a Pollinator-Friendly County Resolution to the Albany County Legislature. We are asking the County protect insects and set a good example for other counties to follow. We ask for your support in passing this important resolution.
Please see complete resolution and sources at savethepinebush.org
Pollinator-Friendly County Resolution:
Pollinator-Friendly County Resolution:
Whereas, there are now eight endangered species of bees in the United States (one of which, the Rusty Patched Bumblebee, was native to this region;
Whereas, research data has recorded dramatic insect declines globally.
Whereas, neonicotinoid pesticides remain in the pollen and nectar of plants for 36 months, having neurotoxic effects on visiting insects;
Whereas, declines of insectivorous birds have been documented and bat conservationists document declines in bat populations as well; and
Whereas, Albany County is known for both agriculture and conservation;
Therefore, be it resolved: Albany will be a Pollinator Friendly County and carry out the following provisions:
That Albany County will publish a guide to organic farms and CSAs, greenhouses which are neo-nicotenoid free, and local sellers of untreated organic seeds to encourage consumers and gardeners to support pollinator-friendly practices. The County will also publish a guide to pollinator host and nectar plants for this region for gardeners to refer to.
That Albany County will plant host plants and nectar plant species for local pollinators -- butterflies, moths, bee species and other flying insect species along county roads when doing repaving or reconstruction and in parks when performing maintenance.
That Albany County will encourage the adoption by municipalities of conservation easement ordinances which will allow landholders to reduce their tax payments by agreeing to conservation easements on their properties, as an open space measure.
That Albany County will encourage teachers to teach about host and nectar plants, and encourage pollinator gardens in the schools and the community;
Yale 250, Three Decade Study shows Drastic Decline in Insect Populations. https://e360.yale.edu/digest/three-decade-survey-shows-drastic-decline-in-insect-populations
Pollinator Conservation Resources, NE Region. https://xerces.org/pollinators-northeast-region/
(Above: This is a wonderful guide to what plants to plant in this region to help pollinators!)
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/26/opinion/sunday/insects-bugs-naturalists-scientists.html Op-Ed in New York Times by Dr. Curt Stager, professor of Natural Sciences at Paul Smith College regarding insect declines.
Published in September-October 2018 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter