When preppers hear the word ‘apocalypse’ the first things that come to mind are (not always realistic) scenes from some post-apocalyptic movies. Or maybe even a (even less realistic) zombie apocalypse. However, unlike a zombie apocalypse, the insect apocalypse isn’t swarms of huge insects taking over the world. It’s actually insects that are suffering the apocalypse with collapsing populations and massive decline in numbers. This could in turn be disastrous for us.
What Is The Insect Apocalypse?
Have you wondered recently where have all our insects gone? In recent years there has been a significant decline in insect populations around the world. Many species of insect have become extinct, and many more have rapidly declining populations. This extremely rapid decline in insect populations is referred to as the insect apocalypse.
Are Insect Populations Really Declining?
Have you noticed that there are fewer insects around when you’re outside than there were a few years ago? Or noticed the lack of bugs covering the front of your car after a drive on a warm summer evening? The short answer is yes, insect populations are rapidly declining, but it’s actually a little more complex than that.
A recent study compiled data from 166 long-term surveys across 1676 globally distributed sites. The results of this study show that in general insect populations are declining, particularly those that live on land. Some species of freshwater insects are increasing in numbers. Butterflies, grasshoppers and ants are declining in numbers by nearly 10% every decade.
This study provides a view of insect populations around the world. The decline in insect populations is worse in some areas of the world than others. Europe in particular has badly declining populations of land-dwelling insects. The decline in European insect populations is speeding up, with greater decline since 2005.
Why Are Insect Populations Declining?
The main causes of the insect apocalypse are the destruction of habitat and the increased use of pesticides.
A greater demand for housing, modern crop farming methods and deforestation are the main causes of loss of habitat. Modern crop farming methods create large areas for growing a single crop, with fewer hedgerows and no diversity. A warming climate is also leading to insect habitats changing, and insects are unable to adapt to the changes quickly enough.
Pesticides protect crops from insect damage. The pesticides kill many insects that come in to contact with them, not only the insects that damage the crop.
What Does The Insect Apocalypse Mean For Us?
Insects are vital because they are the foundation of all of earth’s land-based ecosystems. They pollinate many plants including fruits and vegetables. They recycle nutrients in the soil, including breaking down faeces and dead bodies. Insects distribute seeds and maintain the soil structure. They also provide the basis of the food chain for many animals.
If insect populations continue to decline, humans will be in serious trouble. We rely on insects to maintain the balance of our ecosystem, and to pollinate the plants we use for food. Without insects, the soil would not contain the correct balance of nutrients for many plants to grow. Farmland would no longer be fertile, and forests would die. Even if the plants could grow, there would be no insects to pollinate them. Many fruits and vegetables rely on insect pollination, so there would be much less food available for us.
If the decline in many insect populations continues, it could become apocalyptic for humans too.
What Can We Do About It?
There are things that we can do as a society and also as individuals to help stop the decline of insect populations.
The quickest and easiest change that our society can make is to provide as much insect habitat as possible. Farming methods must change significantly, in order to make food production more sustainable. A permaculture, or forest garden approach to food production is very sustainable, and allows food to be produced in a very diverse forest habitat. It is, however, an extreme change in the way modern farming produces crops. Wildflower meadows are also an important insect habitat. Restoring wildflower meadows, and changing public areas of neatly cut grass into wildflower meadows will provide more insect habitat.
As individuals, we can consider how the food we eat affects insect populations. Beef production, for example, uses a large amount of land that could otherwise be used for fruit and vegetable production using sustainable farming techniques. Even on the small scale of individual gardens, providing insect friendly habitats and flowers will help local insect populations. Growing a variety of fruit and vegetables also provides a diverse habitat for insects in your garden, with the benefit of providing your own food.
As preppers, we try to be prepared for any disaster scenario. The insect apocalypse, however, is a disaster that we need to prevent. Without insects, food chains and ecosystems will collapse completely. No matter how prepared you are for a disaster, the insect apocalypse is one that will be very difficult to survive.