An essential link in the food balance, insects suffer from a constant decline which must be stopped urgently. The continuity of the biodiversity chain and the survival of entire ecosystems are at stake. At the human level, the disappearance of these invertebrates primarily affects food. Fortunately, it is possible to act at your level.
Pollinating insects, in great danger
For the past thirty years, 40% of insect species and are threatened with extinction. At the origin of this collapse, Australian researchers denounce the loss of habitats through several factors: urbanization, deforestation, agricultural conversion, and the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in parallel with the intensification of farming practices over the past 60 years.
For academics Francisco Sanchez-Bayo and Kris Wyckhuys, authors of a study published in the journal Biological Conservation“the conclusion is clear: unless we change the way we produce our food, insects will be on the road to extinction within decades“. Not really anything to be happy about. The two researchers alert us to the urgency of “restoring habitats, rethinking agricultural practices, with in particular a serious curb on the use of pesticides and their substitution by more sustainable practices”. Organic production and permaculture are concrete ways to get out of the spiral of devastating production.
The vital role of pollinating insects in food production
Whether domesticated or wild, pollinating insects play a crucial role in food production. A large number of cultures depend directly or indirectly on their action. The contribution of pollinators has also been the subject of a national study demonstrating their key role in French agricultural production.
The results of this study conducted by the French Evaluation of Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services (EFESE) demonstrate the extent of the service provided by the action of insects in food production through monetary quantification. And the least we can say is that this value is enough to make you dizzy: between 2.3 and 5.3 billion euros in 2010! This represents between 5.2% to 12% of the total value of plant production intended for human consumption French who depend on insects.
These figures show the vital issues arising from the decline of insects. In fact, the vulnerability of plant production to the rapid decline of pollinator populations is highlighted. Moreover, depending on the cultivated species, there is a geographic inequality in their decline. For example, the departments in the south of France are the most exposed. At the European level, 84% of cultivated species directly depend on pollinating insects.
Consequence: the balance of ecosystems is prey to instability
The specialized site Pollinis.org also highlights the cascading risks for all biodiversity, induced by the extinction of insects: “Some flowering plants depend on a single species of insect for pollination. If this “specialist” insect were to disappear, the plant could not survive it. This is the case, for example, of the fig tree and its appointed pollinator, the fig wasp, the only insect capable of fertilizing its flowers which hatch inside a receptacle closed on itself.
The decline of pollinating insects is characterized by a damage to their abundance, diversity and health. To compensate for these deteriorations, a national plan has been developed in France to promote the preservation of bees and wild pollinators.
How to promote the good health of pollinating insects?
To encourage the presence of insects, it is necessary offer them room and board ! If you can, leave a quiet corner at the bottom of the garden, for example. This wild part, little vegetated or giving a little the impression of being abandoned, will constitute a haven of tranquility for insects.
Another solution that is currently very popular: installing an insect hotel for species that prefer cavities. You can also make it yourself with recycled items: wood, bamboo, straw, etc.
In nature, the specialization of insects is very important, which implies that they do not all have the same needs. Some species of insects lay their eggs and nest on a single variety of plant. This specificity is an Achilles’ heel for the survival of insects, because they have little ability to adapt to change. Something to realize the importance of leaving areas of unmown grass.
At the insect canteen, it’s the same logic: there’s something for everyone! Plant local honey species, sources of pollen and nectar. There are many seed mixes in garden stores. The more different varieties there are, the more insects will be spoiled for choice for foraging.
In this approach promoting biodiversity, insecticides are obviously to be avoided.
Want to contribute to the knowledge of pollinating insects?
Participate in the Photographic Monitoring of Pollinating Insects (Spipolli). It is a participatory science project which aims to collect data from the photos sent by the participants. You just need you bring your camera, shoot the insects and send your photos to the Spipoll. Easy and useful!