We won’t survive without insects!

To the Editor:
​​I am sorry for the people who now have a glaring streetlight shining in their windows at night [“National Grid will install shields on LED streetlights that disrupt some residents,” The Altamont Enterprise, March 13, 2022].

The loss of the dark night is a huge issue that we should all care deeply about. In our ignorance we are continuing to take away everything insects need to survive.

We have taken away the night and left insects without the nocturnal cues they need for feeding and reproduction. We have mown down the wild areas where insects live. We have removed the trees and plants their eggs feed on. We have poisoned the water, the soil, and the vegetation with fertilizers and pesticides that kill them indiscriminately. We have filled our yards with exotic plants that only feed exotic pests and now a third of native insects are  endangered.

The extinction of 40 percent of native insects is predicted to happen in the next two to three decades. Are you old enough to remember, in healthier times, how many bugs would be glued to your windshield after a day’s trip?

I know people who think that insects are annoying and life is better without them. The problem is our lives are dependent on insects and we won’t survive without them!

Doug Tallamy, a man often connected to the fast-growing wilding movement, is an entomologist. He’s trying to make us care enough to save insects to save ourselves but it’s a hard sell as it was for Rachel Carson saving birds before him.

She managed to get DDT banned only to have it replaced by neonicotinoids 20 years later. It is estimated that neonicotinoids are 7,000 times more toxic to bees and other insects than DDT. Nics are everywhere now and remain in plant tissue and in soil for a very long time.

We need insects to survive. We all know that we need insects to pollinate 80 percent of food crops, wild seeds, fruits and berries — and some people care about the beautiful monarch butterfly now.

More importantly, insects form the base of the food web feeding fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals — and the tasty caterpillar of the underappreciated moth is actually the main driver of the food web.

Beneficial insects work for us when they kill destructive insects. Native insects disperse seeds that grow to provide new vegetation. Fungi, insects, and bacteria break down and recycle dead plants, dead animals, and waste and make new soil. The planet would rot without insects. 

“Allowing the slow eradication of insect life to continue is not a rational option,” says Tallamy. At the present rate of mindless insect destruction, one third of the tree of life will be lost.

The elimination of useless lawns and restoring wild areas with native plants is the way we can help save insects to save ourselves. Letting nature grow instead of poisoning it can be your contribution.

Cameras and security systems do more to keep burglars away than lighting up your neighbors’ bedroom at night so they don’t have the darkness to make serotonin.

Can we change our idea of what a yard should do and admit that the lawn Nazis with their mowers, their edgers and leaf blowers, chemicals and poisons have been dead wrong? Can we adopt a new aesthetic and mess up our yards now with native life?

Joan Mckeon


Wendy Dwyer
Joined: 03/20/2020 - 14:19
LTE: We won't survive without insects...

BRAVO Joan Mckeon! What a great informative piece , you are SO right on. The Phoebe has been here about a week looking for food. There are no bugs on my windshield these days. I had almost no bees here last year in my gardens despite doing all I can to attract nature. It is frightening to say the least. Thank You and thanks A. E. for printing it.

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