The Buzz about Bugs

Summer time brings bugs, and like them or hate them, our ecosystems rely on those tiny critters.

June 14, 2024 | | Editor’s Desk

According to famed natural scientist David Attenborough, “If we and the rest of the back-boned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world’s ecosystems would collapse.”

I first came across this quote on the home page of Buglife, a U.K. organization devoted to conserving all invertebrates (not just bugs but also worms, jellyfish and the like). I stumbled across the website a couple of years ago when Buglife announced the winners of their 2021 photo contest. (Do yourself a favour, search the contest online and prepare to be dazzled.) I’ve been an avid follower ever since.

Among Buglife’s many (many!) initiatives is an annual Bugs Matter census in which citizen scientists count and report the number of bug splats on their vehicle number plates. The 2023 results, measured by nearly 26,500 journeys across the U.K., revealed a disturbing 78 per cent decrease in splats since the first survey in 2004, and it’s not just the number of insects that is declining. It’s also the variety – and reports of this decline are duplicated in many other studies around the globe.

brown house moth ontario
Find the delightful illustrations of contributor Anthony Jenkins, whose story Bugged! took a closer look at your most commonly found unwanted houseguests.

With a land mass that is a tiny fraction of Canada’s, and a population 50 per cent larger, the U.K. takes preserving their countryside and its wild inhabitants very seriously. In Canada, we tend to be more blasé, but as Don Scallen reports in this issue, Canadians of a certain age can likewise report that the days when a drive in the country required frequent wiper use to clear windshields of insect carnage are well in our rear-view mirror. That’s why, in “Roadside Attractions,” Don makes an impassioned but carefully considered argument for rethinking the municipal mowing of roadside verges, a practice that, in Headwaters alone, wipes out hundreds of acres of the wildflower habitat that supports insects.

Of course, respecting bugs, and their role in the survival of our own species, doesn’t necessarily mean we have to like them. So, also in this issue, Anthony Jenkins takes a more lighthearted view of the bugs with whom we reluctantly share our homes – and offers some suggestions for sending them on their way, as humanely as possible.

Because like them or hate them, as Attenborough observed, we’re nowhere without them.

About the Author More by Signe Ball

Signe Ball is publisher/editor of In The Hills.

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Jun 14, 2024 | Anthony Jenkins | Environment

Insects and their kith are essential to life on earth – but that doesn’t mean we want to share our houses with them. Here’s a closer look at some of our unwanted house guests and how to politely usher them out.

chicory wildflowers ontario

Roadside Attractions

Jun 14, 2024 | Don Scallen | Environment

Each year our roadside verges erupt in a bloom of wildflowers, only to be leveled by municipal mowers. Is there a better way to manage these habitats?

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