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HumBug: Insect Armageddon

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Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) known to supplement their diet with flying insects and line their nests with spider silk. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) known to supplement their diet with flying insects and line their nests with spider silk.
I have had a lifelong interest in insects, collecting, observing, studying, and photographing them for more than 60 years. Looking back, I've noticed progressively fewer insects around my porch lights at night and far fewer splattered across the windshields of my various cars.

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American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) Van Duzen River 2011. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) Van Duzen River 2011.
While my evidence is merely anecdotal, others are making rigorous studies of the phenomenon.
Violet-green swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) — an obligatory insectivore. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Violet-green swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) — an obligatory insectivore.
A Nov. 27, 2018 New York Times article “Insect Armageddon is Here,” points out across the globe, where it's being measured, insect populations are dropping, not just in numbers of species, but in total biomass. We are, apparently, in the middle of an ecological event on par with the extinction of the dinosaurs. This one however wasn't caused by a meteor smashing into our world, but by ourselves.
California red sided common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis). - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • California red sided common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis).
Higher species which are adapted to live off insects and other arthropods are dropping in numbers as well. I live far from heavy agricultural activity but I've seen fewer swallows, kinglets, lizards, frogs, snakes and salamanders over the years. While the American dipper is not listed on any endangered species list, the last photo of one in my archives is from 2011.
Western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus). - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus).
How this pans out is anybody's guess. Maybe this is all good news for the flies, roaches and ravens. The scavengers that live off destruction.

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