Pollinators Passing On

20 07 2017

I was on vacation on Minnesota’s north shore last week. One mid-morning, this beautiful, large moth was hiding in the shade next to the hostel where I was staying. I coaxed it onto my hand and moved it to a large shady tree nearby.

It’s worthwhile to try to save as many of these beneficial insects as possible. At least, it feels good. If nothing else.

mothI have firsthand experience with the dramatic drop-off in bees, butterflies and moths. About 12 years ago, we installed native gardens at my former residence.  For several years, we thrilled to a riot of the most amazing diversity of pollinators of all kinds.  Then, suddenly, variety and abundance took a death dive.  And remained at that depressingly reduced level.

What has caused this?  Experts cite various reasons.  Fence-to-fence factory farms, with no room for the wild plants the insects need is clearly part of the reason.  Dittos for humans destroying ever more natural habitat.  And for one of the most famous – and once ubiquitous – beneficial insects of all, the monarch butterfly, habitat loss coupled with extreme winter weather in their seasonal home in Mexico is surely a big factor as well.

But I think we – all of us, even scientific experts who should know better – are dancing around the chemical truth. If you don’t know about neonicotinoid pesticides, you should.  A study was recently done in Germany.  The European Union – which is considerably less sold out to massive corporations than the good old US of A – banned these chemicals on flowering plants several years ago.  Which means this new study was a controlled one.  Here are the results.  Note that Syngenta and Bayer – the agents of this death in Europe – are determined to spin the results, but did not have any control over the experiment.

I am loath to quote Trump, but . . . “Sad.”  You see, those damned chemicals continue to rule the fields here in the American corporate paradise that’s just getting cozier and cozier for massive planet wreckers – in this case, Monsanto.

And BTW, to paraphrase Pete Seeger, “Where have all the fireflies gone?” Dear reader, how many have you seen this year?  Everywhere I have lived – New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Fourth of July has been peak season for these beautiful bioluminescent bugs.  This year, I have seen exactly one.  Connection?  Who cares?  Apparently, not us. Not enough of us, anyway.

If you read through that Treehugger article, you saw more of that careful dancing around the truth.  Sure, light pollution is a factor, along with habitat destruction.  But that word “chemicals” appears once, almost furtively.

My prediction: we will realize – too late – that agricultural chemicals (perhaps those very dastardly neonics) produced by Monsanto and pals will ultimately be found responsible for firefly decline as well as the documented destruction of bees, butterflies and moths. Too late. Enjoy your glowing summer memories, friends. They ain’t coming back.

Which brings us around to the real problem that not enough of us care enough about.  That is, the way big money rules our politics and policy. Why? Because we let it happen. But at least some organizations are working to solve that thousand-pound gorilla of a problem.  Here is one.

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