Nature Notes: A bleak prospect for a lot of creatures as bugs decline

Nature Notes: A bleak prospect for many creatures as insects decline

SINCE the 1970s, insect populations have plummeted and this is having a knock-on effect throughout the food chain, with all wildlife suffering.

Swallows, swifts, swallows, flycatchers and wagtails, to name a few, all rely on insect prey as their sole source of food, and their numbers are also rapidly declining.

Notes on Nature: Watch out for early nests

Take the cuckoo (pictured) for example. Years ago its well-known dual-note call was an iconic harbinger of spring, but these days we rarely, if ever, hear it. The cuckoo’s main food is the “woolly bear” caterpillar of the garden tiger moth, but so many hedgerows have been cleared or trimmed too drastically that the moths have few places to lay eggs, so cuckoos cannot find enough food to benefit the birds comes ‘ waste.

My yard used to be a haven for orb-weaver spiders, which spin their dew-speckled webs in the fall, but I haven’t seen any in the last two years, no doubt due to a lack of insect prey to capture.

Nature Notes: Privileged to see a Peregrine Falcon

Much of insect loss is due to the increasing use of harmful pesticides and herbicides when applied to crops, leaving the outlook for all insects, and indeed many living things that depend on them, bleak for the foreseeable future.