Last year an article in Science described a sudden 80 percent decrease in flying insects in sampling traps maintained for decades in Germany by the Krefeld Entomological Society.
That summer I noted a comparable decrease in all manner of flying insects in every area that I visited. In pollinator gardens that should have had hundreds of butterflies of 10 to 20 species, I found one or two. I saw few, if any, bumble bees, ground bees or wasps where they had been common and plentiful. There was a huge decrease in dragonflies in ponds and large swampy areas.
As judged by their absence around outdoor nightlights, moths and night-flying beetles have disappeared. The drone of night-calling insects is greatly diminished, and driving country roads at night, few bugs spatter on the windshield.. In the fall, in fields of goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace, few beetles and grasshoppers fly out ahead of me, where they used to be abundant on those plants. On forest paths where spider webs were frequently in my face in previous years, there are none; the few webs I've found and watched are empty of prey. There was always a large, productive web in our nightlight; not last year or this year. I don't even get those pesky gnats in my eyes during daytime walks.
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This summer is starting off like last year. It's mid-July, and I've seen almost no swallowtail butterflies, and few of our most common butterfly, the silver-sided skipper. Pollinators are disappearing, around the world and here.
Beware of summer
Sometimes you just need to go to the doctor. My late friend, the Rev. Prudie Joseph, was a retired nurse. She knew a lot about the human anatomy, and she was a fan of natural home remedies. We talked about putting together a book of home remedies passed down from our ancestors but never did. I watched as she would come out to the farm and select leaves to wrap around a rash or some moss from our tree to wear in her shoes to decrease blood pressure. I remember her discussing securing a slice of potato on the skin overnight to transfer the heat of fever. But I have forgotten more than I remember.
Recently, the excessive heat got to my sensitive skin. I scratched the rash right through the baking soda and water paste that is supposed to cool it down. The Cortisone 10 cream from the pharmacy offered promise of relief after weeks of use. It did not look promising that I would survive that. So, I went to the doctor and was prescribed Prednisone to clear up the heat rash in days, instead of weeks.
As Dr. Andrew Best used to say, “Prevention, actually, really is the best cure.” When the weather authorities announce a heat advisory due to 90 degree weather, try to stay inside. At least take precautions such as wearing sunscreen, light and loose clothing, sun visors or hats, and sunglasses if you must get around in the heat. The direct, unforgiving sunlight can cook a piece of meat placed on a plate on top of a car. Imagine what it does to our arms. Be careful everybody. It is summer, but summer won’t last always.
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