Insects on the Windshield
by Rob English
As a younger man, my job required me to drive from Syracuse to Buffalo and back four days per week. Thank Goodness that the gasoline stations along the way provided buckets of cleaning fluid and a squeegee to clean off the layers of bugs that had splattered themselves against my windshield and headlight lenses. Truly, after a day of driving the NYS Thruway in summer the numerous bugs on my windshield impaired my vision on the road, and dulled the luminosity of my headlights at night.
No more. I still drive hundreds of highway miles in summer, but it is a rare event that a moth or bee or butterfly meets with my windshield. And I’m not alone; drivers are reporting the same loss of car/bug contact throughout the United States and Europe and as far away as Australia. (5)
Why is this happening? Should we care? And if we do, what can a person do to help?
Scientists think that the world’s flying insects are going extinct for many reasons, including habitat loss, chemical pollution, light pollution, climate change, plus tourism, over-harvesting, invasive species.
There’s not much [for flying insects] to eat that isn’t coated in poison, and in many areas, what remains is hard to find. But it’s not just city dwellers paving everything in concrete—if you live in a neighborhood that’s mostly lawns, it’s a different kind of wasteland for bugs. Some can live there, of course, but pollinators need flowers to survive.
And pollinators are species that WE need to survive. The continuing reduction in their numbers “affects everything else up the food chain and damages entire ecosystems in ways we don’t fully understand.”
Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, says that the world must change the way it produces food. “Industrial-scale, intensive agriculture is the one that is killing the ecosystems,” he says.
OK, but few of us can force agribusinesses to switch from dangerous mono-cultural corn to insect friendly varieties, or change out their poisonous insecticides to organic farming methods. But we can plant wildflowers at our homes.
A few pleasant hours in a sunny patch by your house can create an attractive place of food, safety, and comfort to innumerable friendly pollinators, from lady bugs to honeybees to butterflies, and more. Also, the flowers look great to the human eye.
It’s not that I want more bugs to splatter on my windshield. Instead, I think of the fruits and vegetables they pollinate, and also the hungry birds that need to feed on the bugs.
Rob is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York,
Contact People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 3333
Syracuse, NY 13220
Photo of fly-and-bug- by Egor Kamelev and photo of woman-driving-car-on-freeway by Peter Fazekas from pexels.com