The decline of pollinator insects

Who and what are pollinators?

Living beings such as plants require the help of vector organisms to reproduce. This task can also be performed by wind or rainfall, but it is infinitely more common for Pollinators to take care of it: living beings that travel from flower to flower for food and unknowingly carry and spread pollen. A pollinator that everybody knows of is, for sure, Honeybee; but it’s not the only insects that takes on this role, among pollinators we can find many other species of insects such as species belonging to the order of Lepidoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. In addition, besides insects we can also find invertebrates such as mites or spiders and even mammals such as bats.

Why are pollinators crucial?

The biodiversity of our ecosystems, the production of agricultural goods for our livelihood and that of all animal species depend on pollinators and the work they do. Therefore, the presence of healthy pollinator populations that can ensure effective pollination is necessary. Among all pollinating insects, bees alone pollinate 70% of all species of plants.

What is happening to Pollinators?

In Northern Europe and North America in recent years, the abundance, health, and diversity of pollinators have declined, both locally and regionally. In Europe alone, half of the species of pollinator insect are in decline and a third are at risk of extinction, 9% of bee and butterfly’s species are threatened with extinction. In Italy, it is since 2003 that the first significant increases in bee mortality have been reported by the beekeepers, especially in the spring period. The causes that may have led to this decline are many: the effects of intensive agriculture; the exposure to pesticides used in agriculture, in ornamental green areas or within the hives themselves; the climate change; and the introduction of non-native species that take over those already present. The combination of all these factors has led back to a dangerous die-off among pollinator species that could then lead to serious problems for us and our planet.

What remedies can be implemented to restore these populations?

From an agricultural perspective, it is essential to implement a “redesign” of agricultural techniques: reduce intensive farming; increase biodiversity in the cultivated fields with hedges, grassed rows or meadows at the edge of crops; as well as reduce the rush to chemical control and implement integrated pest management techniques. In urban areas, it has been noted the importance of green zones, for maintaining the biodiversity, humans’ well-being, and wildlife.

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