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Poor Will's Almanack: April 9 - 15, 2019

ant on flower
vivek raj
Flickr Creative Commons

According to some recent studies, an insect Armageddon is taking place throughout the United States and Europe. Some scientists project that over half of all insect species could disappear by the end of the 21st century.

The insect population around my yard has diminished markedly in just two years. I used to be able to find angleworms under the mulch near my sidewalk. Last year, no worms. Ants used to build entrances to their nests in the cracks of the sidewalk. No more ants.  Scorpion flies, aphids and beeflies were once plentiful in my garden, but no longer.

Spiders went hungry near my porch light that used to attract moths every night. When I drove my car after dark, even on the most warm and humid weather, my windshield was clean when I returned (the “Windshield Phenomenon” documented in Europe and North America – the disappearance of night-flying insects). The carpenter bees that used to eat my siding no longer hovered near my porch. Monarchs were abundant near my milkweed patch, but I saw almost no red admirals or swallowtails.

Of course, my yard may be an exception, and there are probably some local causes for what I have observed, but my experience mirrors the national phenomenon too closely for comfort. Scientific reports  blame global warming, pollution,  monoculture and insecticides for the disappearance of insects. Perhaps these forces have reached critical mass. Or perhaps they have suddenly morphed into some quiet, violent, systemic assault on life.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Middle Spring  and the second week of the Cows Switching their Tails Moon. In the meantime, pay attention. Whatever is happening, is happening right around you. What changes are you seeing? 

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.