It’s March in Texas, which means one thing: crane flies every year at about this time. These flies these. I used to call them a flies, but actually called crane flies. They come out out of nowhere in the millions and they just swarm everywhere, and they love to just kind of get in your face and swarm all over your body, and I used to really hate these things because they look like giant mosquitoes and, of course, as A kid you think that these things are going to bite you, but not only as I found out later in life.
Can they not bite you they don’t even have mouths to bite you with, and you might be asking how can an animal possibly survive without a mouth? Well, the answer: is they don’t crane flies once they mature into this adult stage.
They only live for a few days. They spend the most of their lives as eggs, kind of just in the soil and around December in January, they hatch from those eggs. They start kind of eating the decomposing material on the ground and then sometime between February and April, they mature they molt into the adult fly stage and they literally have three days to live at that point in which their only job is to mate and lay eggs.
So I used to hate these guys, but they’re on borrowed time. From the moment they become flies as soon as they gain this freedom to fly around it’s, pretty much the clock’s ticking. So I now have a better appreciation for them and that life cycle might sound insane to only be alive really for three days before you have to die and go become food for something, but it actually makes sense in the greater scheme of things, because what it Does is when they’re in their larval stage, they go around and they they eat decomposing material underground, and it basically adds nutrients to the soil.
Nutrients are desperately needed come March and April as the things warm up, and it becomes time for stuff to start growing again. Also, what happens during that time is when they die. They become food for lizards and birds and other species that are now ready to start getting active and going out and doing those things during this time of year, when it’s time for them to start mating and really that’s.
Indicative of all insect species, they’re, seen as pests. They’re annoyances. Sometimes they bite. Sometimes they eat stuff that you don’t want them to eat, but they serve an important part of their ecology, which is why the fact that these things are dying off at a rate, we haven’t seen in millions of years As a problem, you’ve heard about B, die offs for quite some time now.
For a few years, we’ve all heard about colony, collapse, disorder and that whole problem, but according to a new study in biological conservation, it’s. A much bigger problem than just the bees. Insects all over the world are dying in mass and what they’re calling the insect apocalypse, and this is a problem for many reasons.
First of all, insects make up the vast majority of the biodiversity on this planet, and I just biodiversity but biomass. On this planet, if you weighed all the insects in the world, it would outweigh all the humans by 17 times, insects form the very foundation of our food pyramids.
They not only pollinate trees and flowers and plants and fruits and veggies and all the stuff that we eat, but they also provide food for other animals that we eat like fish. In fact, one study showed that insects provide 57 billion dollars worth of agricultural services to our economy every year.
In other words, if we didn’t have insects, we’d, have to spend 57 billion more dollars to do what they do. So yeah an insect die-off is a bad thing. It doesn’t just affect all the animals out there in the woods and the stuff that we don’t have to deal with.
It affects us personally. It could be an existential threat to our species existence you legs with Joe, so there’s, a few sobering statistics to talk about in this study. First of all, this biomass that I was talking about that’s, so important, and so olive lping and the earth it’s dropping by 2.
5 percent. Every year it’s, estimated that over 40 % of species are gon na become endangered over the next few decades. Half of all moth and butterfly species are undeclared of beetles are threatened with extinction in half of all bee and ant species that were surveyed or threatened.
One other problem that they found in this survey is that it’s, not just specific insects. In specific places that are going down there’s, there’s, certain types of insects that are called specialist insects that they only deal in special habitats and have a special function in that ecosystem.
And then there are generalist insects that can adapt and kind of eat different types of food and serve several different uses in an ecosystem and what they’re. Finding is that it’s, not just those niche specialty insects that are dying.
It’s, generalist ones as well, so it’s, not just something that’s occurring in one or two habitats around the world. It’s, something kind of worldwide that’s happening, which is a problem. So what could possibly be this worldwide phenomenon that’s affecting all these insect species? Well, they listed several reasons, including widespread use of insecticides, habitat loss and degradation declines in plants and animals that den sexes depend on displacement by non-native species, air water and light pollution, global spread of insect diseases.
Of course, climate change nitrification due to fossil fuel-burning draining of wetlands and swamps and the loss of small farms. You know just a couple of things there now. It should be noted that not all species are falling apart.
There are some that are actually thriving in this new environment due to some tree planting initiatives in the UK moths are actually starting to thrive in that part of the world. Now that’s, good, of course, but there’s, also a bad side of this, because a lot of like non-native species are coming in invasive species coming into areas where they’re not supposed to be.
They’re thriving there. They’re, wiping out animal and plant populations. They’re. One example of that is the mountain pine beetle in North America. It’s, actually not a good thing that those are thriving because they kind of kill pine trees.
So no in Europe they seen the spread of the Japanese beetle and the Asian Hornet YUM and let’s, not forget the poly fig. A shot hole borer in South Africa. It’s, a bad one. The point is chaos. It’s. All chaos.
We are in the verge of what many scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction, the anthropogenic mass extinction, the one that we caused. Luckily, there are some people doing some things about it.
The first thing that scientists need to do is to categorize and count and get a good survey of all the insects around the world, so that they can then use that as a base model that they can adjust and and see what changes are taking place.
According to that, and then once we can monitor the situation, we can determine where the declines are coming and that can give us a better idea of what’s, causing them. One thing that people in the study talked about is is just kind of changing public perception of bugs we don’t, particularly care for bugs.
We have sort of a good riddance mentality when it comes to finding out that insect species are dying out. We need to kind of find a way to change people’s minds on that. One of the things that they’re talking about in the survey is getting teachers to talk about this more in the classroom and talk about insects as being our friends and maybe focusing on the pretty happy fun.
Insects like your butterflies and your praying. Mantis and stuff like that, to get people more interested and involved in saving these species, it stopped stigmatizing these bugs and movies man. They’re, just people actually bugs.
They also encourage the development of public parts, public gardens home gardens in the backyard little places where bugs can kind of cultivate and do their thing and for people who want to get more involved.
There are projects out there for citizen scientists, where you can actually help with the categorization and the surveying of these bugs you can go to a place online called Xerxes comm. They’ve got a list of different citizen scientist projects that you can get involved with.
I’ll, put a link for it down the description below. So was it time to panic, probably not time to panic it’s. Still there’s still stuff that we can be doing to fix this situation and by the way you know, species do evolve and they change and they adapt.
And you know these new environmental conditions might create a new wave of speciation and creating new bug species to go out there and kind of do their thing. So I should also note that this survey has come under a little bit of scrutiny because of the methodology that they used.
It was basically, they went around and found different studies all around the world on insect declines. The problem with finding and using only surveys that show insect declines is because it’s, going to have a very strong bias towards insect declines and they’re.
They’re, not gon na include maybe some species that are growing in certain areas and stuff like that, so it has come under a little bit of scrutiny. All that said, though, maybe next time an annoying bug gets in your house instead of just squashing.
It maybe kind of just you know, push it toward the door and let the crane flies have their ordi. Alright, thanks so much for watching t-shirts. If you liked this fun little t-shirt design, we plenty of them just like that at the store, fun, nerdy, geeky shirts, that people will look at and go hey, I get that joke.
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