Sunday, October 8, 2017

Where did all the bugs go?

My family went on a road trip to Utah over the summer (from Los Angeles) and we did not need to clean the windshield once. I remember visiting Vegas 15 years ago and there would be dead bugs all of the windshield.

Where did the bugs go? In this interesting article from Science Magazine written by Gretchen Vogel, apparently, there has been an 80% decrease in bugs!!! 8 bugs have died for every 10 that use to exist!!  This is likely a global phenomenon.  Why is this happening? According to the article, a major culprit may be pesticides which not only kills bugs, but the living bugs infertile. Another reason may be changing landscape. More and more trees are being cut down for corn fields and agriculture.  But I think this is something more global because pesticides affect locally but the observations for large drop in the bug mass is seen globally.

According to Science Magazine, there's been in 80% drop in bugs in 2013 compared to 1989.
You may ask "so what, what's the big deal?".  Bugs are sole food source for larger life forms such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals are being impacted. Second, bugs are important for pollination and sustaining life for our plants and for our produce. Bugs are important for decomposing waste, otherwise dead animals and plants would accumulate.

What can we do? First, there are Citizen Science projects available if you like bugs and want to contribute your  local observations so scientists can study and understand changes occurring in changes to distribution and bug biodiversity.

Second, you can read this great article on Wired about how the agriculture sector is adopting artificial-driven machinery to improve evaluation of crop health and disease, decrease herbicide use and improve yield. For example, Blue Rivers, a tech company is developing an AI-driven robot which uses computer vision and sprays herbicides on weeds. This has the potential impact of  reducing the use of herbicides by up to 90%.  

Another example is BoniRob, an AI driven robot that kills weeds mechanically without using herbicides.

No comments:

Post a Comment