The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, December 26, 2018, Page 19, Image 19

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    Wednesday, December 26, 2018 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
Tales from a
by Jim Anderson
Where have all
the insects gone?
Early last summer, I
noticed something that really
bothered me: While driving
between Riley and Sisters on
a nice, warm, early summer
day, upon reaching my desti-
nation I noticed that I didn’t
have as many smashed insects
on the windshield of my trusty
old, 366,000-mile Toyota
4-Runner as I did earlier that
spring. The weather and road
conditions were right, but the
insects just were not there.
The first time I made that
trip was in mid-September
1951, astraddle my beautiful
old 1947 Harley-Davidson
motorcycle. I mounted a
sport shield because beetles
and larger insects really hurt
when they hit my bare cheek
when doing 70 mph, and back
in those days there were more
than enough insects to notice.
In my younger years I
could even hear bees plainly
when they smacked on the
windshield of the car I was
But last summer, some-
thing was out of whack.
When I stepped out of the rig
upon my arrival to buy gas
at my favorite filling station
on 97, I glanced at the wind-
shield. Sure enough, not near
as many insects were splat-
tered there — no butterfly
guts — and I wasn’t imagin-
ing things.
“I’m not killing as many
butterflies with the 4-Runner
as I once did,” I said offhand
to my pal, fellow butterfly
enthusiast and wife, Sue.
“They’re just not there…”
And she remarked, “Yes, I
was noticing that, too.”
“I think all the insects we
do see nowadays are wearing
gas masks and carrying red
flags that say, ‘HELP!’” Sue
When I mention declining
insects to some people, their
response is, ‘Good Riddance!’
What they haven’t stopped to
consider is that the soil-grown
food we eat is wholly depen-
dent on insects for pollina-
tion, and insects in turn are
the only food for a myriad
of animals. E. O. Wilson has
said it many times, “Insects
are the little things that run
the world.” We need to cel-
ebrate, not denigrate, them.
Local retired family doc-
tor Stu Garrett has been con-
cerned about the declining
population of our sage grouse.
He’s looked into habitat loss
and the possibility of West
Nile Virus impacting the
grouse, but now he’s explor-
ing a possible link between
insect loss and bird survival.
“The sage grouse chicks
between zero and eight weeks
need lots of insects and cater-
pillars or they die,” he notes.
And then, that very after-
noon, we received an e-mail
from a pal of ours over in
France telling us how alarmed
French entomologists were
There’s something special
about gathering around a
becoming because of the
disappearance of insect pol-
linators in eastern France and
western Germany.
A recent article in
the Washington Post by
Ben Guarino entitled
“”Hyperalarming’ study
shows massive insect loss,”
states, “In 2014, an inter-
national team of biologists
estimated that, in the past 35
years, the abundance of inver-
tebrates such as beetles and
bees has decreased by 45 per-
cent. A study last year showed
a 76 percent decrease in fly-
ing insects in the past few
decades in German nature
That, dear readers, sounds
like mass extinction.
And we seem to be con-
tributing to it: Our store
shelves carry hundreds of gal-
lon cans that contain chemical
after chemical, all advertised
to kill, kill, and kill.
Robert Michael Pyle,
writer, author, butterfly
expert, insect researcher and
founder of the Xerces Society,
a PNW research organization
that champions invertebrates,
had this to say in response to
my concerns regarding disap-
pearing insects:
“I agree with you that bio-
cides are definitely one of the
major factors leading to insect
losses. There are many others,
which Xerces has been work-
ing to identify and counteract
for 47 years as of December 9!
“Habitat alteration, warm-
ing and drying with climate
Snakefly on my windshield, one of our top insect predators.
change, and intensification
of agriculture are high among
them — the latter has directly
brought about most butterfly
declines in the UK (see the
excellent recent book, ‘The
Moth Snowstorm,’ which
details this history).
“But the huge chemi-
cal load in the environment
is surely one of the leading
causes of insect populations
collapsing. In particular, the
neonicotinoid pesticides are
to bees and butterflies what
organophosphates were to
eagles, ospreys, and Rachel
Carson’s songbirds. Here is
one place to read about this,
on the Xerces website: http://
and-bees. Europe, apparently,
is making some progress on
banning neonics, but they are
everywhere over here.
“The recent articles about
widespread insect decline
have indeed been sobering,
and even worse than we antic-
ipated at the outset of Xerces.
Several long-term butterfly
monitoring programs are sug-
gesting the same, though not
everywhere, yet — we’re
still pretty well off in the
Cascades. We can only hope it
won’t spread and get worse! I
guess we must enjoy them all
the more while they last. In
any case, thanks for writing
and thinking about it.”
My gut feeling is we have
(at last) saturated our world
with chemicals, and insects
are setting off the first alarm
— no, I’ll take that back.
Perhaps the first alarm has
been ringing for a long time
— all the cancer that’s plagu-
ing our society.
Please take all that chemi-
cal goop in your garage and
shop to the county chemical
disposal site and keep it out
of circulation. Please don’t
use any more for a convenient
dose here and there. There
are more than enough people
growing gardens and flower
beds with chemicals to satu-
rate our soils with stuff that
kills, kills, and kills.
It is offi cially the season!
Hot Butt ered Rum and a
Delicious Meal !
Come in for a
Open 7 days a week,
7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
403 E. Hood Ave.
We have many fire
pits to choose from!
Serving Breakfast & Lunch
“Your Local Welding Shop”
CCB# 87640
541-549-9280 | 207 W. Sisters Park Dr. |
We’re committed
to your dental
e a l t h !
Exceptional Health,
Prevention & Aesthetics
For Your Family!
Trevor Frideres d.m.d.
p 541-549-9486 f 541-549-9110
410 E. Cascade Ave. • P.O. Box 1027 • Sisters
Hours: Mon., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.;
Tues.-Wed., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thurs., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
121 W. Cascade Ave.
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | 541-549-2059