Bugs, Rain, and Aliens

I have noticed something disturbing to say the least. I'm sure many of you have heard about the bug apocalypse by now. When I googled it just now, there seems to be some debate on whether it is actually happening or not. All I know is what I can see with my own eyes.

For the past few days my husband and I have been sitting on the back porch at night with the porch light on. Now, experience tells me I should not turn the light on or we'd be bombarded with every bug around. But that's not the case. I have seen moths, but only one at a time. One single, solitary moth will flit around the light for a while, never being joined by any others. My back yard is a few acres of woods. I should be seeing all kinds of bugs. The lightning bugs are also still there but not like they used to be. Just the occasional blink of light here and there.

The ticks are another story though. If you walk 5 feet into the woods for 5 minutes and you'll probably have a tick somewhere on you.

Then there's the rain. And more rain. And even more rain. The only time since spring started that we have had a whole week without rain was during the heatwave in May. That week we had record-breaking heat in the 90s. All my flowers in pots are drenched, some have already died from root rot. It feels like it's turning into a swamp around here. It has been like this for 3 years it seems. The rains start between February and March and end sometime in June or July. Each year a little worse than the year before.

About 6 years ago, I lived near the Tennessee River. We were in a drought so bad that I was able to walk out on the riverbed. Then the rain came in 2013 and the river flooded. This picture was taken from the riverbed a few days before it flooded.

Sometimes I wonder, if there are intelligent aliens out there, what must they think of us? What would they say about this thing called "money" that prevents humans from saving themselves. Especially when most money is not a limited resource (like gold, silver, etc.) and more can always be created. What would they say about 99% of humans allowing the other 1% to drive the whole species to extinction?

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dkmich's picture

Our lakes are really high, and we have flooding all along the lake shore. Homes on crawl spaces are filling up with water because the water table is so high.

Temp, omg, I think we hit 80 once. Mid to high seventies maybe 10 times. 60s, cloudy, cold, and rainy.

Bugs, little gnats and mosquitos are so thick in northern Michigan, people are wearing mesh nets over hats. Ticks are definitely on the increase.

A deserted island in the south pacific sounds really good about now.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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Jen's picture

@dkmich The humidity is awful here. I would love temps in the 60s! Even on days that are "cool" here, it's still so hot. It's so humid that you can see the haze in the air on some days. It wouldn't surprise me if raindrops start forming in the air.

The mosquitoes are bad too, but for some reason they don't seem as bad as last year.

Only if that island is way above the current sea level. Wink

Thanks for reading and for the response. Smile

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Eagles92's picture

@dkmich I agree with you about its appeal.

Except good luck to us in finding one. They're all probably under water.

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mhagle's picture

In Texas I was bitten four times last summer.

Don't know if I have seen a decrease in insects here. There are so many more venomous insects in Texas compared to my home in Iowa.

Seems like we have lots of butterflies this summer. Last fall I noticed flocks of Monarch Butterflies while we previously hardly ever saw them.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Jen's picture

@mhagle I've been bitten by ticks twice this year already. Last year I had at least a half dozen. Before I moved out in the country, I had never been bitten by a tick before.

I haven't seen a Monarch in I don't know when. It's been a while. I do see other butterflies, but not as many as I did last year. I've seen one bumblebee this year. Lots of carpenter bees though. Lots of stink bugs too. 10 - 20 years ago there were no stink bugs at all. Stinkiest invasive species I've ever come across.

Thanks for reading! Smile

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mhagle's picture

@Jen

Get tested for Lyme Disease and the other tick based illnesses. I need to do it too. Last year the first bite gave me a giant welt after which I was scary sick - combo flu and arthritis everywhere. The convenient care doc gave me 10 days of the Lyme antibiotic but the test came back negative. However, I got over it seemingly. What I read about Lyme is that it just hangs out in your bod and then randomly attacks you.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Jen's picture

@mhagle I am in Tennessee, right outside of Knoxville.

I do need to get tested for tick diseases. The first one that ever bit me left a mark for over a year.

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ggersh's picture

since April.

I'm waiting on the mosquitoes once
it warms up and have seen a few Monarchs and tons
of gnats, outside of those very few bug sightings.

Last year was the first year I ever saw a tick and
this I also saw just one.

I've only seen the occasional bee, sigh.

EDIT: Last alien sighting was in 1998

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“The downward spiral of dumbness in America is about to hit a new low.”

Hunter S. Thompson

trumpolini, amerika's last president

we are being governed by a minority of the minority

@ggersh
Haven't seen one in decades.

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Eagles92's picture

I'm in Vermont and would love to share my observations about the bugs here. We've been having such a cool and soggy spring (now almost summer) though, that I haven't been sitting or being as active outside as I'd like.

What I can say, based on last year's experience, is that the predatory bugs are definitely ascendant. Ticks, especially, but also mosquitoes. We've long since lost our bats to white-nose disease and the consequences are dire.

I had a mosquito trap last summer (non-propane; it apparently relies on the chemical reaction caused by UV light in the presence of some kind of coating). Reviewers complained that while it seemed to work somewhat (I can corroborate), it also trapped more moths and other insects than mosquitoes. Well, I never had to clean it out due to its being clogged by moths. It caught a few, but not even close to as many as I would have expected.

For the past few years, I've barely seen lightning bugs anymore, where they used to be a summertime staple.

I don't normally see the monarchs' northerly journey, but will be interested to observe how many I see in Sept/Oct, when they usually head south through here. Last year I feel like there were more than I expected?

I haven't been able to plant my vegetable garden yet because of the cold and damp, so I'm not sure about the honey- and bumble-bees. But we don't have much grass and don't treat the "grass" (mostly green "weeds") we have, and I haven't seen many of either.

Sigh.

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Jen's picture

@Eagles92 I did not know about the bats, but that makes sense.

I saw 4 different giant moths in 2017 - a couple of lunas, a male and a female Imperial, and a couple others. I had never seen giant moths before that. Last year I left the porch light on every night and checked several times a night looking for more. None. I'm going to try again this year but I don't have much hope.

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boriscleto's picture

Didn't seem to affect the black fly or mosquito population in upstate NY...I've seen plenty of butterflies and bees too.

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" In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy "

edg's picture

They all moved to Arizona. I just returned from a 4,500 mile road trip through the Southern states and my car was relatively clean of bugs splats. After crossing the Arizona border and driving the last couple hundred miles, I got bombarded with bugs. The front of my car looks like a war zone.

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@edg

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Jen's picture

@edg But now that you mention it, I rarely have bug splat on my windshield anymore, even going 70 on the interstate. The only thing I need to clean off my windshield is pollen.

Thanks for reading! Smile

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snoopydawg's picture

We had the second wettest spring in history and there is still snow on the peaks. But my windshield has no bug splat on it from driving down the canyon like it used to. Didn't realize that until this essay. We are not very good stewards of the earth are we? But each spring my lawn wins the prize for having the most dandelions on it in my neighborhood. I refuse to poison it just so I'm not embarrassed. Now I'm getting clover like things that the bees love.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Jen's picture

@snoopydawg I have one of those too. I think the only grass growing is crabgrass. Lots of wild violas and white clover.

Thanks for reading! Smile

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dystopian's picture

I have studied 'bugs', like birds, fish, ecosystems, anything natural history, all my life, over a half-century of serious hard study time.

I'd say 'bugs' are like climate, while one area floods more, other areas have more droughts. While some 'bugs' may be more common, others might be in decline. In general most studies agree, numbers are way down across the board. There are many places with long term research like the splatter pads used in the U.K. so the decline is quantified quite well. Those are graphed paper put over front licence plates of cars and driven regular routes and the splatters identified and counted, can you imagine the fun?

Insects are very weather and climate affected. Here in central Texas real wet springs our flies are down. We just are a few years out of an exceptional 7 year drought, a number of things I have not seen since the drought, so now, in 10 years. Butterflies, dragonflies, e.g., multiple orders, are missing species. Bugs really fluctuate with weather/climate so are hard to really nail down what is causing everything. I suspect a layer of atomized neonicotinids, glyphosate, and other stuff is a factor as well.

There is no denying the Monarch and bee populations are way down. My experience recently night-lighting for bugs has been that they are a few percent of what they were. It has been frightening to me. Now I wish I had photo'd the sheet with light on it, almost black in bugs, because I can't get it that way anymore.

Where I am in so.cent. TX locals say the imported Fire Ants ate all the Ticks (not an insect of course). But they leave the chiggers. Ticks are way down here the last couple decades, I see a couple per year. While hosting a couple hundred chiggers annually (which is a juvenile mite - ergo also not an insect). But some places with imported Fire Ants still seem to have ticks.

Large flying insects are way down here, like bees and wasps in particular. The decrease in nesting Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers reflects this.

https://bugguide.net/
is a good place to know if interested in bugs...

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

Jen's picture

@dystopian Thank you!

I never thought I would miss moths so much, partly because I thought they'd always be around.

It is frightening how so many things that we've gotten used to are no longer around. I'm frightened of what it will be like in 5 years or 10 years. Scary stuff.

I saw somewhere that guinea fowl eat ticks. I have seriously thought about getting some.

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Unbelievably loud. I have had a hard time sleeping through it for about a week, might resort to earplugs tonight.
I have lived in this house since 1990. Sure, I have heard crickets, heard cicadas in this tree singing to the cicadas in another tree, and found it like being in a outdoor concert.
This is different. It is a single cricket scraping legs outside my bedroom window for hours and hours during the night, so loud, I just can't believe it.
Ticks. Always ticks here, all my life. But a few years ago, I had a tick bite my arm while I was on my front porch. In Texas, 1 in 10,000 ticks carry/transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I was at the age/gender bracket where it could have killed me.
It almost did.
This tick did almost kill me.

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Jen's picture

@on the cusp I haven't heard a cricket in at least 30-35 years. I honestly have no idea if they are still around or not.
I don't know how people sleep with any sound, but a cricket would be extra annoying.

I'm for sure going to get tested. You and @mhagle have convinced me.

Thank you for reading! Smile

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Jen's picture

I did not expect such a response! I almost didn't even post it, but now I'm glad I did. Thank you all so very much!

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snoopydawg's picture

@Jen

It's so sad to see so many things that we grew up with missing now and from the responses here without us realizing it.
How about grasshoppers? They used to be all over the grass when I was younger, but I rarely see them now. What else are we missing?

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Eagles92's picture

@snoopydawg I used to spot them all the time when I was a kid. Can't remember the last time I saw one. Such beautiful insects.

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mhagle's picture

@Eagles92

Praying Mantis and Walking Sticks. I have not seen any here in Texas this summer though. Never saw them back home in Iowa, so this has been a treat.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

snoopydawg's picture

at the cemetery by the stream. I was so happy to see them buzzing around eating the annoying gnats.

Smile

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery