Climate change hurts many beings. You can notice it in your everyday life and read news about how it affects mammals and birds, but when was the last time you thought about the effect a warmer climate has on insects?
Most people see insects as pests, but they don’t realize that humans need them to survive. Insects pollinate the food you eat, and even one species of insect fading out of existence means a disrupted balance in the ecosystem. Climate change matters on an almost microscopic level, more than you realize.
What Climate Change Does to Species
As a human, you might not see the smaller effects of the world’s warming. Over time, you begin to notice how available land is shrinking due to sea levels rising. The threat of losing territory is a reality for certain insects every day.
Increases in temperature and CO2 levels can damage insects’ breeding patterns and interrupt life cycles, drastically altering the population. Because of this global warming, species are starting to emerge more quickly and at the wrong times. For example, aphids have been observed to emerge a whole month earlier than they are supposed to — which, in turn, can affect farmers’ schedules.
Chris Halsh, the leader of a study monitoring butterfly and insect populations over time, stated that extreme events and weather had harmed the butterfly populations his team watched. With the intense heat from global warming, nectar sources are few and far between, eliminating many of their options for food. When this occurrence takes place, species may look into moving somewhere else that can suit their needs and sustain their lives.
Why Invasive Species Disrupt the Environment
Higher temperatures and changes in climate can cause species to lose a majority of their homeland, forcing them elsewhere or driving them to extinction. Just like humans, insects will do whatever it takes to survive, no matter the cost.
Insects might leave the home they’ve known in search of greener fields, which means they encroach upon the homeland of other species — with whom they might compete for resources and damage both populations as a result.
Humans can deliberately or inadvertently add to the spread of invasive species by introducing creatures with no natural predators. Something as innocent as moving firewood from place to place can introduce brand-new insects to an area they weren’t populous in before.
Species that have no natural predators will thrive, likely beating similar species to resources, until they potentially become pests. The new insects could drive the beneficial insects to extinction, which would, in turn, affect your life and the crops you need to survive.
What You Can Do to Help
While a perfect solution to this issue doesn’t exist, you can still do your part in halting the effects of harmful insect migration and the climate change that drives them to extinction or relocation.
In your garden, you should opt to use sprays that do not harm the beneficial insects but keep the dangerous or harmful ones at bay. Promote the use of native species in your garden rather than introducing something invasive to get rid of the insects you don’t like.
Around 33% of all protected land is under human pressure — which means that human activities threaten to destroy this protected land or the creatures that reside there. You can write letters to petition for greater protections on land or advocate online or in-person to preserve the natural state of your local community. While you don’t think your voice could make a difference, you might inspire others to take up arms and fight for the natural world, too.
As always, you should do your part to reduce the effects of climate change. Minimize your carbon footprint in whatever way you can, whether that’s cutting back on your energy consumption or biking to work instead of taking a car. By banding together with others, you can make a difference and advocate for a brighter future for all organisms.
Advocate for All Insects
Insects, whether pests or friends, all have a purpose in the ecosystem. Instead of ruthlessly swatting away whichever insects cross your path, do your research and seek to understand their contribution to your local community.
By fostering an environment where all insects can thrive and exist without falling prey to invasive species, you’ll be doing your part to ensure species survive. Advocate for their existence and educate others about the importance of all species of bug, and you’ll be doing your part to help both insects and humans survive for years to come.