I found the Winter 2008/2009 issue of ON Nature very interesting, especially the broad focus on the variety of species in peril and the ways in which they are being helped (e.g., Allan Britnell’s “Seeds of hope”). I found it ironic, however, that Tim Tiner’s “Dump debacle” closely precedes the full-page ad on page 11!
Our family has owned a farm in Flesherton, Ontario, for about 45 years. In the early years, when our children were young, the summer air was filled with insects, butterflies and bees. In the spring our apple trees were literally humming with bees and other insects. When our children collected butterflies for school projects, it was easy to collect 15 to 20 different varieties in an hour. Today, however, our apple trees are lucky to have three to four bees and there is a silence in the spring. The only butterflies around are a few cabbage butterflies and one or two monarchs. There are not even that many mosquitoes or houseflies.
Many Grey County farms are not farmed anymore and one would expect more, not fewer insects. I wondered if it was because of the regular spraying of apple orchards near Thornbury and Meaford, but those are 40 to 60 kilometres north of our farm. We all know the bees have had a hard time, but all insects seem to be in trouble. Is our experience atypical?
As naturalists we tend to be bird-centric. But if our insect population is collapsing, it will no doubt have serious repercussions on our insect-eating bird population. Perhaps we should consider the merits of having annual insect surveys à la bird censuses.
Matthew Gaasenbeek, Former President of Ontario Nature,