Insects

A walk along the banks of Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 29, 2015

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I watch with interest the large number of morning walkers on the walking path so well carved out along the cleaned part of the Ulsoor lake.  Some are engaged in conversation, most glued to the earphone, some exercising, some playing ball in a clear strip.   Cormorants splash around in the clean part of the lake, obviously there are fish in the water.   Their splashes arouse the curiosity of walkers who are new to the area.  Mobile phones go clicking.   Pariah kites circle around.  A single Brahminy kite stands out.  The number of Brahminy kites seems to have gone down.  I could spot only one in about ten days' time.

This blog is for all of those who do not have time/inclination to watch the lovely butterflies and other insects they pass by every day.  These insects are becoming rarer by the day and we in India are lucky that spraying of insecticides is not that widespread yet so as to kill them off for ever from our parts. Safety tests done in labs before marketing insecticides don't account for the long term poison accumulation that kills bees, and possibly many other beneficial insects.   By disregarding the threat of chemicals to tiny creatures, scientists warn, may be endangering larger ones like ourselves. 

I call them Gems, because they are priceless in today's world.  Here are a few I could manage clicking.


Tailed Jay

To read more about this butterfly, go to

http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/sp/569/Graphium-agamemnon



Common Castor

To read more about this butterfly, go to

http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/#!/sp/765/Ariadne-merione



Plain Tiger

To read more about this butterfly, go to

http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/#!/sp/744/Danaus-chrysippus



Silk cotton Bug

And now,  the Glaring Gaps of the Lake!

To reach the walking path I had to walk along a stinking sewer which borders the Lake for almost 1000 meters.   Sewage water kept spewing in from other parts of the lake as well. 


The stinking sewer whose water goes into the lake



The pretty water Lilies blooming in the enclosed part of the lake did not prevent the steps of the step well getting strewn about with polythene bags and styrofoam glasses.   (Double click on the picture to see a larger image)

Marketed in the US under the name Styrofoam, EPS Expandable Polystyrene Foam (EPS) was invented by Dow Chemical scientist Otis Ray McIntire in 1941.  There are two main issues that polystyrene causes for marine (read lake) animals - mechanical and chemical.

"The [mechanical root] is very straight-forward," says scientists.   Oftentimes, we find polystyrene foam lodged in the intestines that causes blockages that can be lethal. If you think about how we worry about a mild blockage from eating the wrong thing, imagine eating a ball of Styrofoam. That's what some of these animals are doing."

Chemically, absorbent properties make EPS even more dangerous. "Polystyrene foams essentially act like little pollutant sponges, picking up and concentrating some of the nastiest contaminants in the water"   That's not just bad for the fish and the cormorants. It could be bad for humans.

My earlier article on Ulsoor lake "Bringing back nature into the city of Bangalore"

can be read at the link


http://www.indianwildlifeclub.com/ezine/view/details.aspx?aid=830

Insects

Where benign insects control harmful pests.

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 11, 2015

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Where benign insects control harmful pests.

Much of the destruction that we see on the farm is the result of unwanted and exorbitantly expensive chemical inputs. Take the case of chemical pesticides. It was in late 1970s that David Pimental of the Cornell University had said in his landmark paper that 99.9 per cent chemical pesticides go into environment and only 0.01 per cent of the pesticides sprayed reach the target pest. Despite this warning, agricultural scientists continued to advocate the use of chemical pesticides. While the industry gained immensely, farmers as well as the gullible consumers suffered. This makes me wonder whether there is a way out. Can the Indian farmer ever emerge out of the chakravyuah?  

.....Last week, I visited Nidana and Lalit Khera, two tiny and nondescript villages in Jind ditrict of Haryana. Farmers and village women in these villages have gone a step ahead. Not only they don't spray chemical pesticides on cotton, they don't even use bio-pesticides. They have allowed the insect equilibrium to prevail to such an extent that the harmful insects are taken care of by the beneficial insects. 

Meena Malik is a 23 year-old graduate, who along with some 30 women of the nearby villages, partakes in a mahila keet pathshala (women insect school) every week. Once in a week, they spread across cotton fields in small groups early in the morning, each carrying a magnifying glass and with a notebook in hand. They identify the beneficial insects, which are mostly non-vegetarian, and count its population on a few plants. Similarly, they look for the harmful insects, mostly vegetarian feeding on the plant foliage and fruits, and based on their observations make a note of the insect diversity that exists in the crop fields.

Read More at
   



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