Insects | KUNC

Insects

In northeastern Kansas, there's an open-air ecological laboratory called Konza Prairie. Scientists like Ellen Welti go there to study plants, insects, and big animals. "In the spring it has a lot of beautiful flowers, it has bison; everybody should go visit and check it out for themselves," says Welti, who is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oklahoma.

In this landscape, grasshoppers play a crucial role. They eat the grass; birds eat them.

Extreme temperatures are driving a dramatic decline in bumblebees across North America and Europe, according to a new study, in yet another way climate change is putting ecosystems at risk.

Researchers looked at half a million records showing where bumblebees have been found since 1901, across 66 different species. They found that in places where bumblebees have lived in North America, you're about half as likely to see one today.

The decline is especially pronounced in Mexico, where bumblebees once lived in abundance.

Consider, for a moment, the circuitous journey of the insecticide called thiamethoxam, on its way to killing a wild wasp.

Alejandro Tena, a researcher at the Valencia Institute of Agricultural Research, in Spain, mixed the chemical into water used to irrigate clementine trees. This is a common practice among citrus farmers. As intended, the tree roots absorbed the insecticide, and it spread throughout the trees' branches and leaves.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expanding the use of an insecticide that is toxic to bees. The move affects more than 17 million acres of farmland in our region.

 


Summer is a time of travel and fun. But with every bed an exhausted traveler falls into after a day of sightseeing, the chances of bringing home an unwanted bug increase.

Bedbugs don't fly or jump or come in from your garden. They crawl very quickly and are great at hiding in your luggage when you travel and hitching a ride into your home — or hotel room.

Rae Ellen Bichell / Mountain West News Bureau

There’s evidence that bee and butterfly populations are in decline, a phenomenon that some have dubbed the “insect apocalypse.” In response, the Colorado Department of Transportation has brought in a bug expert.

Peter Miller / Flickr

Monarch butterflies in the West have hit a record low, according to a conservation group that tracks their numbers.

Farming insects may be more sustainable than raising meat, but so far that hasn't been quite enough to convince most Westerners to eat them.

Marketing them as delicious, exquisite delicacies, though? That might do the trick.

The global demand for meat drives environmental decline, from forest depletion and soil erosion to increased water use and the release of greenhouse gases.

Warmer temperatures across the region from climate change are making insect pests hungrier. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Americans waste a staggering amount of food. Instead of letting it rot and wreck the environment, some entrepreneurs want to put it to work feeding insects, and see the potential to revolutionize how we feed some of the livestock that provide us our meat.

Phil Taylor’s enthusiasm for insects is infectious. The University of Colorado Boulder research ecologist beams as he weaves through a small greenhouse in rural Boulder County, Colorado. A room about the size of a shipping container sits inside.

It's a breeding chamber, Taylor says. “I hesitate to say it, but it’s called ‘the brothel.’”

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