“Insects play an amazing role. But they’re not yet fully appreciated,” says Will Hawkes, a modern day explorer and insect migration specialist, on the latest episode of the Climate Curious podcast by TEDxLondon. In our most open-minded chat to date, he debunks the little known, but incredible role insects play in the world’s ecosystem – from helping us grow crops and keep pests under control – ultimately opening our eyes to the fact that bugs need love, too!
A PhD student at Exeter University, Will spends Autumn and Spring in Cyprus and the Pyrenees Mountains respectively, tracking insect migration as part of his research project. He shares that numbers are starting to dwindle, with some research in South West Germany showing that 97% less bugs exist today in comparison with the 1970s.
“I don’t think they can cope with the rapid change that humans are causing to the planet, and so they are somewhat in crisis. It’s too strong a word, but they’re certainly under threat by our actions as humans, and they do need a lot of love and protection”Will Hawkes
The solution? Switching up your internal narrative from bugs being something to fear, to bugs being something fascinating and good for the planet. Think more Colin the Caterpillar and Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket than Harry Potter’s Aragog the giant human-eating spider.
Because of their huge reproductive capacity (for example, hoverflies lay 400 eggs during their approximately month-long life), insects have possibly the best chance of any animal group in adapting to changes in climate.
Will’s fierce love for bugs will get you reconsidering even the creepiest of crawlies: “The variety of colours in moths is kind of unreal, like there’s small elephant or large elephant Hawk moths which are completely pink. It’s just a complete other world which you never see, […] this amazing, amazing world, which is just right under our noses (or under our feet), but you just never see it. I think that’s the real fascinating thing about insects for me.
Co-host Maryam, a self-confessed arachnophobic, hit the nail on the head perfectly when she said,”there’s physical things you can do, but it becomes easier to care when you hear them talked about in such an interesting way.”
In this conversation, hosted by TEDxLondon’s Maryam Pasha and advocate and activist Ben Hurst, Will explains how we can give bugs their buzz back! Including simple things such as planting herbs on your balcony, eating organic foods and pressuring your council to reduce verge cutting,
Until next time – stay curious!