clover 2

“The grass kept growing in the hot sun
I fought the lawn and the lawn won
I fought the lawn and the lawn won

A green, thick lawn like my neighbor has
I always wanted one
But all I got was a pain in the grass

I fought the lawn and the lawn won
I fought the lawn and the lawn won”

~ M.S.G. with apologies to Bryan Adams

In the midst of our pandemic, economic disaster and political divisiveness, it’s easy to lose sight of the apocalypses taking place around us in the natural world. Among the most dangerous to humans is the potential insect apocalypse.

Melissa Breyer reports, “… if we lose all the insects, then we lose everything that eats the insects, and then we lose everything that eats the things that eat the insects and so on. They are also essential for pollination and the recycling of nutrients. You can see where this is going: As the authors put it, a ‘catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.'”

Humanity relies on nature for our survival. If you don’t believe it, try surviving on Mars or any other planet.

Biodiversity reporter Patrick Greenfield quotes the ‘roadmap to insect recovery’, “The world must eradicate pesticide use, prioritize nature-based farming methods and urgently reduce water, light and noise pollution to save plummeting insect populations … Phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used in industrial farming and aggressive greenhouse gas emission reductions are among a series of urgent “no-regret” solutions to reverse what conservationists have called the “unnoticed insect apocalypse”.

Researchers and scientists have identified other options, as well, including replacing our lawns with more diverse habitat.

Breyer also notes, “We are a country obsessed with large swaths of lawn. Lawn grass is the most-grown crop in the United States, yet one that we cannot eat. Lawns require a dizzying supply of water and chemicals, while depriving pollinators and other insects of the support they need … There is a long list of all the reasons that lawns are an ecological nightmare, but the insect situation may be the most urgent.”

Ilana Strauss reports, “But there’s an alternative to grass that’s just as green and cheery … Clovers make great lawns. They grow easily, and they don’t need as much water as grass. They also don’t need fertilizer or herbicide. They reach a certain height and stop growing, so you don’t have to cut them … Clovers also make soil healthier.”

Clovers are pretty, drought resistant, soft to walk on, easy to maintain and good insect habitat. But any single species expanse is less beneficial than a diverse habitat. Different invertebrates require different habitats. Quoting entomologist Andrew Salisbury, “The main message is the more foliage there is, the more invertebrates you will have in your garden … Gardeners can make a lot of difference just by growing stuff in their gardens, taking it a little bit easy on being too tidy and avoiding the use of pesticides wherever possible.”

In Holland, according to reporter Chiara Giordano, “The roofs of hundreds of bus stops have been covered in plants as a gift to honey bees … Mainly made up of sedum plants, a total of 316 have been covered in greenery in Utrecht … The shelters not only support the city’s biodiversity, such as honey bees and bumblebees, but they also help capture fine dust and store rainwater.”

By asking homeowners to lend a hand (or lawn), as reported by Melissa Breyer, “The state of Minnesota just allocated nearly a million dollars in incentives for people to transform their lawns into bee-friendly wildflowers, clover and native grasses … The state is asking citizens to stop spraying herbicide, stop mowing so often, and let their lawns re-wild into a more natural state.”

Unlike so many of the catastrophes that surround us, the solution to the insect apocalypse is one that even individuals can help address. We just need to treat Nature with the same care that we are treating ourselves to avoid the COVID-19 virus.

Just imagine being able to socially distance in a soft, fragrant lawn of clover, listening to the buzzing of bees.

Additional information:

Melissa Breyer, Here’s How We Are Killing Off the Fireflies, February 3, 2020, TreeHugger

Melissa Breyer, Minnesota Will Pay Homeowners to Replace Lawns with Bee-Friendly Wildflowers, Clover and Native Grasses, January 29, 2020, returntonow.net

Melissa Breyer, Please Kill Your Lawn, February 21, 2020, TreeHugger

Helen Briggs, Biodiversity: The Best Plants for Attracting Insects to Gardens, 7 December 2019, BBC News

Chiara Giordano, Holland Covers Hundreds of Bus Stops With Plants as Gift to Honeybees, 7/09/19, The Independent

Patrick Greenfield, Urgent New ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ Could Reverse Insect Apocalypse, Mon 6 Jan 2020, The Guardian

Ilana Strauss, Use This Instead of Grass for Your Lawn, August 1, 2018, TreeHugger

One thought on “Bugged

  1. This topic is so very important. Insects need our attention and nurturing, ASAP. I had not heard of the program in Minnesota. First great thing I’ve learned today- thanks!


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