The New Scientist reports the oak processionary moth (OPM), an invasive species in northern Europe with caterpillars that are toxic to humans and other animals, expanded its range at an increased speed in the years following its arrival in the UK, despite government efforts to contain it.
The BBC reports dragonflies are moving northwards across Britain and Ireland as temperatures rise. More than 40% of species have increased their distribution since 1970, while only about 10% have declined, according to a new report.
Experts from the British Dragonfly Society say it’s an indicator of the effects of climate change. There is concern over the loss of populations of insects due to factors such as pollution and habitat loss.
The BBC reports scientists say light pollution may be contributing to “worrying” declines in insects seen in recent decades. In a UK study, artificial street lights were found to disrupt the behaviour of nocturnal moths, reducing caterpillars numbers by half.
Modern LED streetlights appeared to have the biggest impact. There is growing evidence that insect populations are shrinking due to the likes of climate change, habitat loss and pesticides. Factors are complex and varied, including the steady loss of forests, heathlands, meadows and marshes, overuse of pesticides, climate change and pollution of rivers and lakes.
The Observer reports swarms of flying ants could swarm to Wembley and cloud the Euro 2020 final, after a radar detected millions of bugs over London and the south-east on Friday. As luck has it, the final between England and Italy is taking place on Sunday, which could fall into the mating period of ants, which go on a “nuptial flight” in huge numbers between June and September.
Although the Met Office has forecast “promising” weather for Sunday, it also picked up on the phenomenon potentially coinciding with the fixture and becoming a nuisance for buzzing players and fans.
The Times reports bees, butterflies and birds could return to the outskirts of towns and cities under plans being considered by ministers to create a “wild belt” to restore depleted natural habitats. Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, is understood to be keen on the idea of wildlife corridors as a way to encourage greater biodiversity across the country.
The Times reports conservationists have warned that bee and insect hotels for sale in retailers including Dunnes Stores and Lidl, as well as in many garden centres, could have a sting in the tail: they may not help many bees and could be harmful if used incorrectly.
The Guardian, and iNNewsreport a new app that tracks bug splats on car number plates will enable UK citizen scientists to help shed light on the worrying decline of insects.
Older drivers will remember scrubbing large numbers of splatted insects from windscreens after journeys in past decades. But a 2019 study that analysed car registration plates after trips in Kent found a 50% fall in splatted bugs compared with 2004.
The charity Buglife has now launched the free Bugs Matter app to enable people to collect valuable data. Users start by cleaning their number plate before a journey, which is then tracked by the app to collect location and time data.
The Times reports Scotland’s moth population has been badly damaged by climate change, experts have said. The latest research shows that moth abundance has almost halved, falling by 46 per cent between 1990 and 2018 and still dropping. Yet the study showed moth occupancy — the distribution of the insects across Scotland — has risen by 16 cent between 1990 and 2016.
Climate change is likely to be an important factor behind the trends, driving some species north, with corresponding surges in occupancy. At the same time, warmer, wetter winters have been shown to affect some moths badly while others suffer from detrimental land management and habitat changes.
The Guardian reports this is the time of year when the Duke of Burgundy, a small jewel of a butterfly named after an unknown aristocrat, takes to the wing.
Ten years ago, it was Britain’s rarest butterfly, living in tiny colonies on scrubby chalk or limestone grassland. Now it has bounced back, its population surging by 25% over the decade.
Last spring, one of the biggest colony of Dukes in the country was discovered by Martin Warren, the author of Butterflies: A Natural History. This was a chance find but the thriving population on chalk downland in Dorset is no accident.