Why we should value flying insects


Britain has observed a decline of flying insects by 60%, based on research from the years 2004 and 2021. Photo: AFP

The number of flying insects in Britain has declined by 60% since 2004. And this phenomenon is not exclusive to that region, far from it.

It’s a reminder to all of us of the need to preserve such insects, which are essential for maintaining the planet’s ecosystems.

In the northern hemisphere, fine weather is back, and with it a host of outdoor activities to enjoy these beautiful days. And with them comes the return of flying insects, some of which are particularly dreaded by humans, such as mosquitoes, wasps and hornets.

Rest assured: You are not alone in suffering from entomophobia (fear of insects), which is quite common among people.

Although these flying creatures often spark fear and disgust, they are nevertheless essential to the maintenance of nature’s ecosystems. They are particularly valuable for eliminating certain parasites, pollinating plants and facilitating the decomposition of organic matter.

And their decline appears to be significant, judging by this survey carried out in the United Kingdom, which asked members of the public to count the number of dead insects “splatted” against their vehicle license plates and compared the findings to a similar survey done in 2004.

According to the study, the population of flying insects has decreased by 65% in England, 55% in Wales and 28% in Scotland. In Denmark, the decline is estimated at 80%, between 1997 and 2017, according to another study conducted using similar methods.

Need yet another argument to convince you to stop killing these animals? As of May 19, 2022, the UK will reach its overshoot day for the whole year of 2022.

In other words, the inhabitants of the UK will have consumed as much natural resources as the planet renews in one year per person. It is therefore urgent to preserve every resource of the Earth. And insects are part of it.

Citronella and cloves

Fortunately for entomophobes, there are some solutions to keep these small flying creatures away from your home or picnic, without killing them with a violent backhand or by setting deadly traps.

For example, you can use natural ingredients: citronella and peppermint for horseflies and mosquitoes, lavender essential oil for wasps. The technique of cutting a lemon in half and sticking cloves in it is also effective in repelling most winged insects, including flies!

If you have a garden or balcony and insects are welcome there, there are ways to encourage their proliferation, such as planting wildflowers or letting your lawn grow a little longer. – AFP

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