Flying Insects Are Disappearing and That’s Not a Good Thing.

Flying Insects Are Disappearing and That’s Not a Good Thing.

October 18, 20176:00 pm. Adam K Raymond. Mosquitos! Photo: ranplett/Getty Images Flying insects, an annoying but necessary part of life, are disappearing, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One. For the study, researchers evaluated 27 years of insect collection data from German nature preserves and found the biomass of flying insects had fallen by a seasonal average of 76 percent, the Washington Post reports. “This is very alarming!” ecologist Caspar Hallmann, who was a part of the research team, told the Post. As detestable as flying insects are, they’re also a vital part of the ecosystem, providing food for animals and playing a vital role in agriculture. As for why the insects are disappearing, researchers appeared stumped. Climate change, they said, seems an unlikely culprit since the increase in temperatures should have helped, not harmed, the insect population. The study out of Germany is not the first to show a decline in airborne bugs. A 2012 survey by the Zoological Society of London concluded that insect populations around the planet are in decline. In 2014, a study in Science showed a 45 percent global decline in insect life. But you don’t have to be a scientist to observe this phenomenon. Just get in a car and start driving. As Hallmann told the Post, going for a drive and then checking the windshield for bug guts is “probably one of the best illustrative ways to realize we are dealing with a decline in flying insects.” Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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The environmental toll of plastics

The environmental toll of plastics

By Jessica A. Knoblauch Environmental Health News July 2, 2009 avrenim_acceber/flickr From cell phones and computers to bicycle helmets and hospital IV bags, plastic has molded society in many ways that make life both easier and safer. But the synthetic material also has left harmful imprints on the environment and perhaps human health, according to a new compilation of articles authored by scientists from around the world.More than 60 scientists contributed to the new report, which aims to present the first comprehensive review of the impact of plastics on the environment and human health, and offer possible solutions. “One of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet is the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics,” wrote David Barnes, a lead author and researcher for the British Antarctic Survey. The report was published this month in a theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B, a scientific journal. As the scrutiny of the environmental toll of plastic increases, so has its usage, the scientists reported. Since its mass production began in the 1940s, plastic’s wide range of unique properties has propelled it to an essential status in society. Next year, more than 300 million tons will be produced worldwide. The amount of plastic manufactured in the first ten years of this century will approach the total produced in the entire last century, according to the report. “Plastics are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries,” Richard Thompson, lead editor of the report, said in an interview. Evidence is mounting that the chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that might harm people and the environment. And its production and disposal contribute to an array of environmental problems, too. For example: • Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects. • Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife. • Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats. • Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater. • Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process. People are exposed to chemicals from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer...

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The hills are greening up, but don’t be fooled.

The hills are greening up, but don’t be fooled.

Don’t get too excited about all the greenery that is appearing on hillsides and valleys …. millions and millions of black wattle have sprung up after the rains. Now is the time to take action, see article published by Cape Nature below. Thanks to Linda Hegerty for sending me the pictures. They were taken in the valley near the Salt River. Best Practice Guide to alien vegetation management Preamble Invasive alien vegetation must be removed from environmentally sensitive areas with the least amount of damage to indigenous vegetation, to ensure compliance with the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA) regulations. Before any clearing of alien vegetation is initiated, it must be understood that when the programme starts, it must be implemented until completion. There is no value in ad hoc clearing, with no follow-up programme. Management actions: Map the extent of invasion as well as density and height of alien species Determine costs and priorities and produce a plan of operations detailing Initial control (drastic reduction of the existing population), Follow-up control (control of seedlings and coppice re-growth) and Maintenance (on-going, low-level control) and include targets and timeframes. Prioritise the clearing of the most lightly infested areas first Prioritise the clearing of highly invasive species which may not have become well established to date Prioritise clearing before the burning of a block Prioritise clearing within the first season after a burn Prioritise follow up clearing To restore/rehabilitate areas cleared of alien vegetation Keep record of clearing operations and stands Where should you start? By removing invasive alien plants from your property, you will help reduce their spread. If your property is very large, and there are many invasive plants present, consider the following as high-priority areas, which should be controlled first: The area immediately around buildings, if there is a risk of fire. Low-density infestations, to curb the spread of invasive plants into surrounding areas. The tops of slopes, watercourses, and steep, long bare slopes, to inhibit the spread of seeds downhill or downstream, where they will infest new areas. Sites where initial control work has been completed and regrowth is present, to prevent densification and further infestation.  Disturbed sites, to prevent new infestations from mass germination of alien seedsin the soil. Seedlings should be controlled when shorter than 0,5 m to avoid costly control work at a later stage. Control methods The following section contains generic guidelines/principles for the removal of alien plants. Specific removal methods for each plant are provided further below. Invasive alien plant control relies on four main methods – manual, mechanical, chemical and biological control. Long-term success of any programme is best achieved through a combination of these. This is called an integrated control approach.  When using herbicide Read the...

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FIRST ENVIRO DISASTER GRANT CRUCIAL

FIRST ENVIRO DISASTER GRANT CRUCIAL

The symposium featured an array of speakers who spoke on the Knysna fire from different professional and scientific perspectives. GARDEN ROUTE NEWS – The environmental management work group of Garden Route Rebuild is waiting with bated breath to hear if the R37-million they need for emergency environmental rehabilitation in the area will be approved. According to environmental consultant Paul Bucholz, who works with the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (SCFPA), this is the first time that an application for environmental emergency disaster funding has been made in South Africa. This application follows the fires that swept through the area in June. Bucholz was speaking at a symposium titled “Knysna Fire – the Causes, the Fire, the Aftermath and the Future” presented by the Veldfire Management Programme at Nelson Mandela University (NMU), George Campus on 21 September. NMU is the only tertiary institution in the country that offers a Veldfire Management Programme. Bucholz said it is imperative that the environmental funding is secured. “It is needed for alien eradication, fuel load reduction, to fight erosion and to rehabilitate the burn scar.” Tiaan Pool, programme coordinator: Veldfire Management and Forestry at Nelson Mandela University George Campus, facilitated the symposium and directed the programme. The application is currently on the desk of the Deputy Director General of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, and a decision is expected soon. The impact of the fires were filmed using drones and Bucholz showed where high altitude teams have placed very expensive anti erosion fibre sausages and blankets under very dangerous conditions on slopes that had burnt completely bare. Alien control crucial Manager of Planning at Sanparks and chairman of SCFPA, Len du Plessis, called the fires, the evacuation, the use of social media and the subsequent rebuild and rehabilitation efforts “unprecedented”. Du Plessis provided details of the environmental impact of the fire and implored government to make the emergency funding available as soon as possible. “I cannot stress the importance of alien control enough. The regrowth will be massive. It is our biggest challenge and poses the biggest fire risk. It will also destroy our sense of place.” He said the damage to the soil and landscape had been devastating and that damage to infrastructure caused sewage to run into the Knysna estuary. Du Plessis expressed the hope that the habitat of the endangered Brenton Blue Butterfly, which is found only in this area, has not been eradicated altogether. MTO planning officer Willie Brink said the impact of the fire on commercial plantations and the resultant loss of logs will be felt up to 2040. Malcolm Procter of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) in the Free State revealed that...

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Setting the facts straight on arum lilies and frogs

Setting the facts straight on arum lilies and frogs

I was requested to set the facts straight regarding arum lilies and frogs.  Three years ago I posted an article that was forwarded to me by a concerned resident of Knysna. As we also have vendors selling Arum lilies on the N2 we thought it relevant to publish the article. A recent joint press release issued by the City of Cape Town, CapeNature and SANBI (August 2010)There has been inaccurate information circulating about the sale of arum lilies, and the protection of two of the Cape’s amphibians, the arum lily frog and micro frog. A campaign urging residents not to purchase arum lilies from vendors at the side of the road seems to be gaining momentum whilst spreading inaccurate information about arum lilies and frogs. This misleading information has also gone viral, and is being spread via e-mail and social networking tools. It is important that the public understand the facts about these frogs, before making a decision on whether or not to purchase the flowers. Correct information about arum lily frog The Environmental Management (ERM) Department, in conjunction with CapeNature and the South African National Biodiversity Institute would therefore like to highlight the facts. The information being circulated refers to the ‘arum lily micro frog’ which does not exist. There are, however, two different species of frog, namely the micro frog (Microbatrachella capensis) and the arum lily frog (Hyperolius horstockii). The micro frog is smaller than a fingernail, while the arum lily frog is somewhat larger, growing to about 40 mm in length. It has been reported that the ‘arum lily micro frog’ is in danger because of the sale of arum lilies, but this is not at all correct for either of the frog species. The supposed threat to these frogs’ habitat has been cited as one of the main reasons why the public should not buy arum lilies. However, no frog species breeds in the flowers of arum lilies. While the arum lily frog occasionally uses the flowers for shelter, it is not dependant on them. Arum lily frogs breed in wetlands and not in the flowers of the arums. The micro frog is ground-dwelling, breeding in temporary pools, and it does not climb into any flowers. Arum lily frogs are very pale and they hide their bright orange feet and legs under their bodies during the day. In this way, the frog is able to use a white background as camouflage against predators and this background is sometimes the white arum flower. They do not use the pollen of the flowers to camouflage themselves, as has been suggested. While arum lily frogs are only found in the Western Cape (and a small area of the...

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Where have all the insects gone?

Where have all the insects gone?

By Sophie Inge For Mailonline PUBLISHED: 09:15 BST, 27 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:41 BST, 27 August 2017 Have you noticed you’re scrubbing fewer squashed flies off your windscreen of late? You’re not alone. Drivers across the UK have been reporting an absence of flies, gnats, wasps and moths on their vehicles – prompting fears from scientists that such insects could be in decline. And this is no new phenomenon, with experts noting a decline in insect numbers over the past few decades. Drivers across the UK have been reporting less flies, gnats, wasps and moths than usual on their vehicles – prompting fears from scientists that such insects could be in decline ‘Where have all the insects gone?’ wondered Michael Groom of Teffont Evias in Wiltshire in a letter to the Telegraph newspaper. ‘My windscreen remains clear whatever the speed.’ According to data collected by the Krefeld Entomological Society, a German amateur group of entomologists that monitored more than 100 nature reserves in western Europe since the Eighties, insect levels have fallen sharply in recent years. In 2013, the group returned to one of its trapping sites from 1989 and found the number of insects had dropped by nearly 80 per cent, Science Mag reported. Analysis of further samples confirmed the phenomenon. So why should we be worried? According to data collected by the Krefeld Entomological Society, a German amateur group of entomologists that monitored more than 100 nature reserves in western Europe since the Eighties, insect levels have fallen sharply in recent years HOW THE BEES ARE AFFECTED BY PESTICIDES Queen bees emerge from hibernation in spring to fly off to continue the bees’ life cycle in a new colony. An agricultural dose of thiamethoxam reduces their ability to do this, and boosts the risk of population collapse. When a queen is going to set up a colony, she will secrete wax and form it into containers for nectar and pollen. She will then begin to lay her eggs and sit on them like a bird – these spring queens represent the next generation of bumblebee colonies. But exactly how thiamethoxam blocks the queens’ reproductive cycle is not yet known. According to Dave Goulson, an ecologist at the University of Sussex who is working with Krefeld Entomological Society, other species are at risk, too. ‘If you’re an insect-eating bird living in that area, four-fifths of your food is gone in the last quarter-century, which is staggering,’ he told the magazine earlier this year. ‘One almost hopes that it’s not representative – that it’s some strange artifact.’ The so-called ‘windscreen phenomenon’ has been blamed by experts on the increasing use of pesticides over the past 50 years. And it’s not just the kind of insect you find on...

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