Bees Making Honey Up Close
When Rachel Carson wrote her groundbreaking book, “Silent Spring” back in the sixties, the world was shocked at how DDT and other pesticides were killing wildlife, ruining rivers and meting out an insidious form of death and destruction. These practises were changed; DDT was banned. The eagle population revived along with many other forms of wildlife.
Now, neonicotinoids are the new DDT, killing bees in droves in Ontario alone. But listen carefully to the sounds around you. It isn’t just the amiable drone of bees that’s missing. Frog populations have plummeted in the last decade, along with many other amphibians, reptiles as well as bats and birds.
The reasons for the decline of these other species has not yet been linked to neonicotinoids though a variety of new and worrying diseases plague them. But the haphazard use of pesticides, insecticides, soil boosters and the mad, ill-thought-out rush to produce ethanol from corn (which is slathered in neonicotinoids as are soybeans) has resulted not in freedom from the yoke of oil but in the destruction of forests and wildlife.
When we first moved into our house by the river, it was impossible to sleep on any spring or summer night while the bullfrogs were thumping out their booming calls. Now, there is not a one to be seen or heard. Similarly, leopard frogs are all but gone. It is rare that I see a toad, when I used to trip over them daily, apologizing to them by name (it was the only way to sort them out).
Garter snakes, which depend on these populations, are rare, though not completely gone. And when these populations decline, so do bird populations which eat such small fry, such as blue and green herons, night herons, bitterns and other shore wading birds.
Spring along the river is increasingly silent. Rachel Carson, we need you now.