Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Insect population “out of balance”

Agriculture Canada scientist Jeff Skevington, who works with the Canadian National Collection of Insects, says Canada’s insect population is declining and “the whole ecosystem’s going out of balance”.

In an interview on CTV, he said Canada has lost a significant amount of its insect biodiversity in recent years based on the results of annual collection samples.

“There are hundreds, probably thousands of species that have just disappeared from the collection – things that haven’t turned up for years,” Skevington told CTV’s Your Morning.

While most people think of insect pests, Skevington said they are a minority of the overall population.

“Most insects are benign or actually beneficial,” he said, Many will keep other pest insects, such as aphids, in check. Without those predator insects, an out-of-control aphid population could mean major trouble for Canada’s agricultural industry.

Skevington said there are many reasons for the decline, including loss of habitat and new insecticides.

Climate change might be the biggest reason, he said, providing an example of temperature fluctuations in spring.

“Quite often you’ll have really big warm spells so you get a flush of insects coming out, followed by a cold snap,” he said. Those cold snaps can interrupt a bug’s lifecycle and severely impact their populations.

“These are huge declines,” Skevington said.