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Do insects catch Covid?

wildlife, gardening, environment, Rural living, Pets and Vets
Clitheroekid
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Do insects catch Covid?

#419351

Postby Clitheroekid » June 13th, 2021, 10:22 pm

I'm sure they don't, but I don't know what other explanation there can be for the wholesale disappearance of the insect world.

It's something I've noticed in previous summers, and I think I posted about it, but even with the new, improved, search facility I can't find it. But this year their absence is even more noticeable.

I went for a long walk earlier, and it was a warm evening, verging on muggy, just the sort of evening I'd once have expected to be swarming with insects.

But there were virtually none. It was a rural area, including fields, woods and rivers, but the absence of insects was truly remarkable. I even started looking for them on flowers (of which there were many) but they were deserted.

It's not just in this area, either. I spent a few days down in Berkshire and Hampshire last week, and it was the same there. We were sitting in the garden of a pub by the River Test (the appropriately named Mayfly, near Stockbridge, a beautiful setting) but apart from the mayflies themselves there were very few other insects, though it was again a warm summer's day. It was the same in the large and well-stocked garden of the house in Pangbourne, where I was staying.

Even the numbers of ordinary houseflies seem to have diminished dramatically. It used to be the case that if the doors and windows were left open on a summer's day the house would soon be infested with flies and other insects, but not any more.

In some ways it makes summers more pleasant, as I generally dislike insects, and they can easily ruin any al fresco activity, but it can't be a good thing for nature generally. It may also help explain the decline in the number of birds.

It's really quite worrying, but I've found that people haven't generally noticed until I mention it to them, and then they start noticing it themselves.

Have other Fools had the same experience?

Midsmartin
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419353

Postby Midsmartin » June 13th, 2021, 10:30 pm

The insect apocalypse is fairly well known. Alas numbers seem to be dropping fast even in nature reserves.
https://phys.org/news/2018-05-decline-i ... lands.html

Though part of the problem is that nobody really thought to count insects thoroughly in the past, so measuring decline is hard.

We can blame intensive farming and habitat and biodiversity loss, pesticides, climate change, light pollution, over tidy gardens and more.

I wonder if even the weight of vehicle traffic collecting dead insects on them has been enough to damages populations.

We should be pretty much in a state of panic about it!

AsleepInYorkshire
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419355

Postby AsleepInYorkshire » June 13th, 2021, 10:45 pm

Clitheroekid wrote:I'm sure they don't, but I don't know what other explanation there can be for the wholesale disappearance of the insect world.

It's something I've noticed in previous summers, and I think I posted about it, but even with the new, improved, search facility I can't find it. But this year their absence is even more noticeable.

I went for a long walk earlier, and it was a warm evening, verging on muggy, just the sort of evening I'd once have expected to be swarming with insects.

But there were virtually none. It was a rural area, including fields, woods and rivers, but the absence of insects was truly remarkable. I even started looking for them on flowers (of which there were many) but they were deserted.

It's not just in this area, either. I spent a few days down in Berkshire and Hampshire last week, and it was the same there. We were sitting in the garden of a pub by the River Test (the appropriately named Mayfly, near Stockbridge, a beautiful setting) but apart from the mayflies themselves there were very few other insects, though it was again a warm summer's day. It was the same in the large and well-stocked garden of the house in Pangbourne, where I was staying.

Even the numbers of ordinary houseflies seem to have diminished dramatically. It used to be the case that if the doors and windows were left open on a summer's day the house would soon be infested with flies and other insects, but not any more.

In some ways it makes summers more pleasant, as I generally dislike insects, and they can easily ruin any al fresco activity, but it can't be a good thing for nature generally. It may also help explain the decline in the number of birds.

It's really quite worrying, but I've found that people haven't generally noticed until I mention it to them, and then they start noticing it themselves.

Have other Fools had the same experience?

Quite spooky that you should bring up this subject. My good lady and daughter have binge watched Clarkson's Farm today. Jeremey was actually quite informative during the series. As machinery has got larger to benefit efficiency then the fields have got larger. The ratio of hedgerow and field border has diminished compared to the size of each field. Or as Jeremy explained. An average spider or insect can walk a certain distance a day looking for food. But if the field it has to walk across is the equivalent of us walking across the Sahara Desert (and it is) then the insect will not survive. And why is it a Sahara Desert? Because we kill all the insects in the field with sprays to stop them eating our crops. We kill everything except the crop itself. The only thing that can live in the field is the crop. The insects are limited to the borders of the field. Their habitat has been reduced dramatically.

AiY

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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419356

Postby Breelander » June 13th, 2021, 10:47 pm

Midsmartin wrote:I wonder if even the weight of vehicle traffic collecting dead insects on them has been enough to damages populations...


As a sampling method, cars work well. After a 200 mile round trip today I can confirm there are far fewer insect around - at least, those that fly at windscreen level.

Thee unseasonally late spring can't have helped this year :(

Midsmartin
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419379

Postby Midsmartin » June 14th, 2021, 7:45 am

Herbicide use on all those big fields ends up reducing the number of plant species in the hedgerows too. Many invertebrates rely on a single or small range of food/host plants.

And plants may rely on a single or small range of insects.

Bees have lots of flowers when the rape is in flower, but they need food all summer long, not just a couple of weeks.

Intensively farmed soil loses structure, species, and also erodes away. Even soil becomes a non renewable resource if not looked after.

Neonicitinoids are supposed to have very specific effects but are now known to damages insect health in all sorts of ways. They find it harder to navigate home after exposure, for one thing.

And roads and increasing traffic mean that remaining good habitat is more fragmented, making it hard for populations to move back into areas from which they have disappeared, so decline sets in.

And £29 billion on new roads they want to spend.
Interestingly, wear from car tyres is a huge source of plastic pollution, which may hypothetically be having adverse effects on invertebrates. We don't really know.

And while we complain about the Amazon disappearing we still allow HS2 to destroy ancient woodland, and create a huge new scar across the country fragmenting more habitats.

Sorcery
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419478

Postby Sorcery » June 14th, 2021, 2:59 pm

Breelander wrote:
Midsmartin wrote:I wonder if even the weight of vehicle traffic collecting dead insects on them has been enough to damages populations...


As a sampling method, cars work well. After a 200 mile round trip today I can confirm there are far fewer insect around - at least, those that fly at windscreen level.

Thee unseasonally late spring can't have helped this year :(


I was wondering if the lack of dead insects on windscreens is because of better windscreen design. Flow over the windscreen could have been engineered to lift a butterfly say, over the car and drop it behind the car without touching a surface. Would improve mpg and be good for insects. I certainly do not have to clean their bodies off the way I used to on my car.

pje16
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419479

Postby pje16 » June 14th, 2021, 3:01 pm

I do a regular London to Durham trip - A1 route 260 miles (no my name is not Cummings !)
and up until 2 years ago my front number plate would be coated in bugs
last 2 years (around 5 trips) hardly any

Midsmartin
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419490

Postby Midsmartin » June 14th, 2021, 3:30 pm

Sorcery wrote:
Breelander wrote:
I was wondering if the lack of dead insects on windscreens is because of better windscreen design. Flow over the windscreen could have been engineered to lift a butterfly say, over the car and drop it behind the car without touching a surface. Would improve mpg and be good for insects. I certainly do not have to clean their bodies off the way I used to on my car.


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/12/car-splatometer-tests-reveal-huge-decline-number-insects
"The survey of insects hitting car windscreens in rural Denmark used data collected every summer from 1997 to 2017 and found an 80% decline in abundance. "
And a similar survey looked to see if modern cars kill fewer insects, and found that older cars in fact kill fewer insects.

More googling finds no evidence of insect decline in parts of the US - it's not necessarily worldwide, but tied to local/regional land-use.

Itsallaguess
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419492

Postby Itsallaguess » June 14th, 2021, 3:34 pm

I think the sub-species Formicidae are completely immune.

They have, of course, got anty-bodies....

Cheers!

Itsallaguess

Sorcery
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419493

Postby Sorcery » June 14th, 2021, 3:47 pm

Midsmartin wrote:
Sorcery wrote:
Breelander wrote:
I was wondering if the lack of dead insects on windscreens is because of better windscreen design. Flow over the windscreen could have been engineered to lift a butterfly say, over the car and drop it behind the car without touching a surface. Would improve mpg and be good for insects. I certainly do not have to clean their bodies off the way I used to on my car.


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/12/car-splatometer-tests-reveal-huge-decline-number-insects
"The survey of insects hitting car windscreens in rural Denmark used data collected every summer from 1997 to 2017 and found an 80% decline in abundance. "
And a similar survey looked to see if modern cars kill fewer insects, and found that older cars in fact kill fewer insects.

More googling finds no evidence of insect decline in parts of the US - it's not necessarily worldwide, but tied to local/regional land-use.


That surprises me. Modern windscreens are much longer and more gently sloping than say a Ford Anglia or a mini. Perhaps they have done that for fuel efficiency alone. Just checked the current car a Mazda MX3, no insect collisions even on the radiator grille. Also noticed in the garden, the only place bees (mainly wild) are working hard is a clump of giant echiums in flower.

Breelander
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419501

Postby Breelander » June 14th, 2021, 4:09 pm

Sorcery wrote:
Breelander wrote:As a sampling method, cars work well. After a 200 mile round trip today I can confirm there are far fewer insect around - at least, those that fly at windscreen level.
I was wondering if the lack of dead insects on windscreens is because of better windscreen design...


Definitely not for the 'sample' I took on Sunday - the car I was driving was a 1960s Mini :D

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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419509

Postby kiloran » June 14th, 2021, 4:20 pm

pje16 wrote:I do a regular London to Durham trip - A1 route 260 miles (no my name is not Cummings !)
and up until 2 years ago my front number plate would be coated in bugs
last 2 years (around 5 trips) hardly any

After getting my windscreen dinged a few weeks back, a shiny new one was fitted and a few days later I was trundling down the M74/M6, and the windscreen, number plate and bodywork were absolutely covered in deceased bugs. So, the lack of insects is all down to me.

--kiloran

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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419535

Postby Lanark » June 14th, 2021, 5:42 pm

All the giant Chelsea Tractors wont be helping.

pje16
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419543

Postby pje16 » June 14th, 2021, 6:29 pm

Lanark wrote:All the giant Chelsea Tractors wont be helping.

Oh come on... they are a must for that 1/2 mile journey to drop a 4 year old toddler off to nursery
and the ramp in a Waitrose car park can be treacherous :lol:

GrahamPlatt
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419559

Postby GrahamPlatt » June 14th, 2021, 8:56 pm

pje16 wrote:
Lanark wrote:All the giant Chelsea Tractors wont be helping.

Oh come on... they are a must for that 1/2 mile journey to drop a 4 year old toddler off to nursery
and the ramp in a Waitrose car park can be treacherous :lol:

But they never get up enough speed to actually squash a bug against the windscreen.

gryffron
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#419676

Postby gryffron » June 15th, 2021, 1:06 pm

Midsmartin wrote:https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/12/car-splatometer-tests-reveal-huge-decline-number-insects
"The survey of insects hitting car windscreens in rural Denmark used data collected every summer from 1997 to 2017 and found an 80% decline in abundance. "
And a similar survey looked to see if modern cars kill fewer insects, and found that older cars in fact kill fewer insects.

I would expect improved aerodynamics to mean fewer insect fatalities. Air - and insects - can flow around the car more easily.

There was a particular issue this year due to the cold and frosts in April. Which killed off a lot of early-emerging bugs.

Gryff

pje16
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#428991

Postby pje16 » July 20th, 2021, 10:14 am

pje16 wrote:I do a regular London to Durham trip - A1 route 260 miles (no my name is not Cummings !)
and up until 2 years ago my front number plate would be coated in bugs
last 2 years (around 5 trips) hardly any

Surprise update
Last Sunday went round the M25 (J24-29) and back
Number plate and screen peppered with insect remains by the time I got home

Mike4
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#428996

Postby Mike4 » July 20th, 2021, 10:42 am

They are all here, at Claydon north Oxfordshire, in and around my boat.

pje16
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#428999

Postby pje16 » July 20th, 2021, 10:48 am

It is a LOT warmer now than when the thread was started
all good to know

GrahamPlatt
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Re: Do insects catch Covid?

#429006

Postby GrahamPlatt » July 20th, 2021, 11:09 am

Whether insect “catch it” or not, biting flies and mosquitoes could be vectors I suppose.


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