Living in harmony with nature isn’t easy, and insects can make it a lot worse. Granted, we don’t want to anger them since they can eat us, but anybody who’s fought off mosquitoes or fire ants probably wishes they’d go away. Instead, they’re probably going to get much more in your face.
Vice spoke to integrative biologist Clint Penick (i.e. a guy who studies animals as a system) who discussed the far-ranging effects of climate change on insects. Unsurprisingly, most of it is bad news for both insects and humans. It’s a question of how hot it gets before they have to move or die of heatstroke. If they can’t move to cooler climates, they die. Most relevantly, Penick notes the insects we do want are probably going to go away while the insects we don’t want will move right in.
In a warmer world, you would predict that fire ants are going to go a little bit more north, whether that’s ten miles or a hundred miles north. [So] some people that were just out of the range to find fire ants might find that in the next decade or so that they have fire ants in their yard.
Penick also notes that warming will kill off species like fungus gnats, which might not be a big deal or it might mean the end of the species. Nobody studies fungus gnats so we’ve got no idea what’ll happen if they go extinct. But we do know that mosquitoes, which spread malaria, are moving into the cities that were built in cooler areas to get away from malaria and mosquitoes, so let’s hurry up on that malaria vaccine, science.