We have Monarch Watch in North America and the annual butterfly survey in Great Britain, but now is the time for a greater insect citizen science survey. The less charismatic arthropods require our attention as worldwide insects are in steep decline. We have Christmas Bird Counts, Feeder Watches, North American Breeding Bird Surveys, Frogwatch and others. We need the same for insects.
Nighthawks are a generalist species, meaning they have tried many habitats throughout their evolution. One innovation when grasslands started to disappear was the rooftop habitat. But as flat, gravel rooftops start to dwindle because new roofing materials without camouflage for nighthawk eggs are on the rise, nighthawks are finding new urban habitats, like parking lots. In my study, when nighthawks lost their rooftop habitat atop the Yankton Mall in South Dakota, nearby warehouse workers noticed a nest in the parking lot. To help them out, they placed orange construction cones around the nest and hoped for the best.
I used to think that nocturnal birds like the nightjars held onto an ancestral trait. It’s been a hypothesis that ancestral birds and mammals became nocturnal to avoid the high points of dinosaur activity. If that’s so, we now are starting to notice the return to nocturnal habitats to avoid the new dinosaurs, ourselves.
Microplastics have been threatening our aquatic habitats for some time. But now that we’ve tracked microplastics being taken up by insects that emerge from the water surface, we know now that animals that eat those insects are at risk, too.