Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Some Good news?

6 August, 2010 - 10:57 -- John Burton

Over the past few nights I have seen a dramatic and very obvious increase in the numbers of moths and other insects flying around. For several years I have been bemoaning the loss of night flying insects, not only in England but also in places such as the Greek Islands, the South of France and Sicily.

There can be little doubt that two major factors have been involved in the decline: insecticides and electric lights. Fly over Europe and (provided there is no cloud cover) you will never be out of sight of urban lighting. In fact that is true now even in the most remote parts of the world. Fly over the Amazon, and you will see electric light scattered across the landscape. Electric light attracts moths and other night flying bugs from miles around.

Insecticides have been used to wipe out the pests of crops (but of course are pretty indiscriminate), and also to clear the coastal resorts around the Mediterranean of mosquitoes. Back in the 1960s when I first visited Greece, coastal villages were swarming with bats, toads and geckos. They are now a rare sight.

But it has been heartening to see so many insects this year in and around the WLT HQ town of Halesworth. I have no idea of the cause -- one thought is that it has been exceptionally warm and dry recently.

Meanwhile, we can all do our bit for wildlife by pressing local governments to reduce the impacts of street lighting, switching off our own exterior lighting, and in the UK urge the government to change the time zone to the same as in western Europe, which would mean many lights came on later in the evening. This would also have a far bigger impact than some of the other energy saving suggestions made from time to time.

Has anyone else noticed an increase in numbers of flying insects in their area? And any suggestions as to why?

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