I never thought I'd lament a dearth of creepy-crawlies, but I find I must. Here is the story: Right now I'm spending some time in the backwoods, visiting a couple to whom I'm close. I've sojourned in this area in a certain little country home for almost twenty years now, and this region, believe me, is almost as bucolic as they come. Anyway, many a night we'd sit around with a light on, and the insects would gather by the hundreds on the large sliding glass deck door. And there weren't just the perennially suicidal moths, but a plethora of different species, a veritable smorgasbord for the odd bat that would sometimes descend on the glass with a faint "thump," snatching an easy meal (they really seemed to go batty for the moths, though). In fact, so voluminous they were, that, when discussing apocalyptic scenarios, my friend mentioned how we could easily live off the protein squirming on the other side of the glass.
But something has changed. It's not the area, as it's not much different; it's still heavily forested and you can still drink the water that trickles down the mountain. The bugs, though, are absent. I exaggerate not when I say that when we look at that glass door now, we may see perhaps two insects at any given time. Quite literally, it seems to be a reduction of at least 99 percent. And this phenomenon has been apparent for a few years now.
Struck by this curious development, I went online and did a little research. It didn't take me long to discover that others have made the same observation, and I read an article about how this phenomenon has been observed in parts of England.
Now, I'm neither an entomologist nor environmental extremist, but this does give me pause for thought. First, this dovetails with all the stories recently disseminated throughout the Web about the disappearance of bees; it seems that this phenomenon involves not just bees but perhaps all insects. Second, it seems a bit alarming since insects are at the bottom of the food chain; birds, reptiles, amphibians and many other creatures feed on them. Their disappearance would portend the collapse of the ecosystem.
While I find it alarming, I'm not an alarmist. Perhaps this is part of some natural cycle we're unaware of, I don't know. And I certainly wouldn't buy the notion that it's a result of "global warming" (which isn't caused by man and is probably beneficial), but it bears investigation. I would be interested to hear what some knowledgeable entomologists have to say about this, so if any read this piece, feel free to chime in.
Anyway, I suppose absence does make the heart grow fonder. I had an unplanned encounter with an insect yesterday, and I've never been so happy to be bitten by a mosquito.