Studies say that the ever-increasing EMF pollution in our environment is causing a massive decrease in Earth’s population of insects.
Insects indeed appear insignificant. They lie in the basal part of the food chain and seem to have nothing to do besides annoying us.
But if you look past their appearance, you’ll see that these creatures play a huge role in helping us survive. Keeping pests in check, pollinating our crops, and acting as sanitation experts are just a few of the many things they do for us.
They’re so vital for our existence that threatening theirs can have a catastrophic effect on the human population. But sadly, that’s what we’ve been doing all these years.
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How Important are Insects?
Insects are probably one of the most interesting groups of animals on earth. Even though we think of them as pests, our economy thrives because of them. Statistics say that they generate $57 billion for the economy every year in the US alone.
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They do this by pollinating plants, producing useful substances, acting as scavengers, and serving as food for animals in the higher section of the food chain.
If all insects were to vanish from the world at once, here are some things that would happen.
- Our ecosystems — and our entire civilization — would be in dire trouble.
- Animal feces, which have a lot of nitrogen in them, would start building up, eventually choking plant life and preventing new growth.
- There will be no corpse-eaters to clean dead bodies in the forests and recycle the nutrients from those bodies back into the ecosystem.
- And, above all that, the absence of insects would mean that there’d be fewer food sources for birds, bats, and other animals in the food chain.
The scariest part is that this is not just a hypothesis. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen a massive decline in insect populations. And researchers have linked this to the ever-growing EMF pollution in our environment.
But how does something like EMF that our cell phones, tablets, laptops, and WiFi routers use for connectivity affect the insect population?
Effects of EMF on Bees
Albert Einstein once famously said: “If the bees disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Einstein made this statement based on the fact that humanity – and indeed, all of life – depends heavily on bees for survival.
Bees are critical to the reproduction of plants that fuel many species in the food chain. Experts say that, without the efforts of the bees, 85% of the more than 200,000 known species of Earth’s vegetation won’t be able to reproduce. And that will certainly affect animals, including those that supply us with dairy and meat.
So, no vegetables, meat, or dairy. Not quite an optimal condition for humanity to survive.
Statistics show that the population of bees is decreasing at an alarming rate. Between 2018-2019 alone, beekeepers in the United States reported losing 40.7% of their honey bee colonies.
And there are many reasons why this could be happening. Climate change, parasites, pathogens, pesticides – all of these could be contributing factors. But, over the past few years, we’ve also found that the growing EMF pollution in our environment is not working in their favor.
How Does EMF Affect Bees?
Bees use magnetoreception to perform their daily tasks, like finding food, sensing routes, and traveling back to the hive. And they have been honed to rely on this ability for navigation over aeons of evolution.
Magnetoreception is the ability to use the earth’s magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude, or location.
Unsurprisingly, scientists have found that human-made EMF interferes with a bee’s ability to use magnetoreception. I say this is unsurprising because the magnetic field surrounding the earth is significantly weaker than what our gadgets, appliances, and network sources produce. And these human-made EMFs can simply overpower and confuse the bees’ sense of the earth’s magnetic field.
The inability to use magnetoreception affects their homing ability and their waggle dance. This means that the group which flies away cannot sense the return route and gets lost. Besides that, a research study at the University of Southampton also found that EMF exposure reduces bees’ cognitive and motor abilities. Because of this, the worker bees fail to perform tasks like pollination.
EMF Causes Bee Colony Collapse
In normal times, beekeepers lose approximately 5-10% of their bee populations throughout winter; that can go up to 15-20% in a bad year. That’s the way it used to be, anyway.
In the time since 2005, beekeepers have reported a drastic reduction in the number of bees in all seasons– not only in winter. Scientists call this phenomenon “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).”
To give you some sense of the scope of CCD, according to a report prepared for the US Congress by the Congressional Research Service, the number of managed honey bee colonies dropped 31.8% in the winter of 2006/2007; an additional 35.8% the following year; 28.6% in 2008/2009 winter; and 33.8% between 2009 and 2010.
So, as you can see, CCD has resulted in some massive and sudden drops in bee populations.
The reasons behind the drastic reduction in bees were unknown. In the intervening years, scientists identified several possible causes, including pesticides and antibiotics in the environment, as well as genetically modified crops and climate change. And CCD is likely the result of multiple separate causes.
Among the suspected causes is EMF radiation. And there is now a large body of science to support this.
EMF & Bees: What Research Says
A group of researchers in Germany performed a very simple experiment with a cordless phone and a beehive. They turned on the cordless phone (again, a cordless phone is not as powerful as a cell phone) near a hive and investigated whether there was a resulting change in the number of bees that returned to the hive.
They performed this test with 16 different hives; eight irradiated and eight control hives. 39.7% of the non-irradiated bees returned; only 7.3% of the irradiated bees came back to the hive.
In other research out of India, scientists selected four colonies and planted functional GSM cell phones in two of them.
The cell phones were on ‘call mode,’ and the colonies were exposed to EMF for 15 minutes twice a day for three months.
They noted many effects in the EMF exposed hive, including reduced flight activity, reduced ability to return to the hive, and a reduced number of worker bees returning to the hive with pollen.
The results were:
- The exposed queen laid less than half the eggs of the control queen
- The control hive had stored eight times as much honey as the exposed hive,
- And the population of the exposed hive was reduced by over 70%.
After this, the researchers said that EMF is the primary source of CCD. And they concluded their study by saying:
“Electromagnetic frequency emitted by cell phones reduces bees’ colony size and the number of eggs laid by the queen bee and changes their behavior.”
EMF’s Effects on Drosophila Melanogaster
Drosophila Melanogaster, or the common fruit fly, is probably one of the most essential insects on earth. While they don’t directly contribute to our food production like bees do, fruit flies are one of the most commonly used model organisms in biomedical science.
Fruit flies can produce multiple generations in one year, making them model subjects for genetics studies. With these insects, we can learn about evolution and how organisms pass genetic traits down through generations.
If these insects become no longer available, it will heavily affect our research capabilities. And studies show that the heavy EMF pollution in our environment is taking Drosophila Melanogaster to the verge of extinction. Have a look.
Decreased Reproductive Capability
Researchers from Athens, Greece, found in an experiment that the reproductive capabilities in Drosophila Melanogaster reduce significantly when they face prolonged EMF exposure.
For this experiment, they used a commercial cellular mobile phone, which is particularly interesting. This is because taking account of fluctuating parameters is necessary when you’re looking at the biological effects of EMF on a living organism.
When you use simulations of digital cell phone signals that emit EMF on a constant frequency and intensity, they don’t replicate how EMF sources operate in the real world.
EMF from real GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and DCS (Distributed Communication System) networks are never constant. They continuously change their frequency, intensity, and volume. And a real commercial cell phone replicates that exactly.
When the researchers exposed the fruit flies to EMF from cell phones, they noticed that the reproductive capacity of exposed groups decreased significantly. At the same time, the control group had no noticeable changes.
The researchers concluded their study by saying, “Our results show that both types of mobile telephony radiation decrease considerably insect reproduction. The statistical analysis clearly shows that the exposed Drosophila groups differ in offspring production between them and compared to the SE groups due to the effect of the GSM and DCS fields. Since we did not detect any temperature increases during the exposures, the recorded effect is considered as non-thermal.”
Premature Cell Death
Apoptosis or programmed cell death (PCD) is normal in all living beings. It helps the body discard old and damaged cells and replace them with new ones. The problem arises when cells die unnaturally. This phenomenon is known as necrosis, and it’s extremely bad for living organisms.
Research says that exposure to EMF from cell phones and network sources causes DNA fragmentation and cell death in the egg chamber cells of fruit flies, rendering them unable to reproduce and even causing them to die early.
EMF’s Effects on Ants
Ants aerate the soil, improve drainage, improve soil chemistry, disperse seeds, and prey on pests. Like with bees, without ants, it would be challenging for humankind to survive.
Studies say that the current level of EMF pollution in our environment is deteriorating the ant population. How?
Visual Score Reduction
Despite their appearance, ants are an extremely intelligent species. They have a powerful memory and can remember large amounts of visual and olfactory data.
Researchers say that when ant colonies get exposed to EMF radiation, they lose their visual and olfactory memory, which causes a range of problems.
This was confirmed in a 2012 experiment where scientists exposed colonies of ants to EMF operating on 900 MHz frequency (2G internet, basically).
It only took a few hours of exposure for ants to forget everything they had memorized.
The researchers said that “the impact of GSM 900 MHz radiation was greater on the visual memory than on the olfactory one. These communication waves may have such a disastrous impact on a wide range of insects using olfactory and/or visual memory, i.e., on bees.”
Impaired Pheromone Recognition
The ability to recognize pheromones is essential for ants. This is because they rely on pheromones for many things, like sending a danger alert upon death to warn other ants and creating chemical trails from their nest to a promising food source.
A 2012 experiment in Belgium proved that prolonged EMF exposure interferes with ants’ ability to recognize pheromones.
For this experiment, they took six colonies of ants and exposed them to EMFs operating in 900 MHz frequency. After the exposure, they noticed that the ants were not responding to the pheromone trail researchers had created, as they did before exposure.
The researchers concluded by saying, “The present work demonstrates the incapacity of social insects (ants) to correctly respond to their pheromones and to recruit congeners, and confirmed deficiencies in larvae development when exposed to electromagnetic waves.”
Even though insects are insignificant in size, they contribute massively to our lives. And the EMF pollution we’re causing with our constant addition of new devices and network sources is not exactly taking things in the right direction.
Saving the insects is not optional; we need them to survive.
So, think of that before doing anything that makes our already EMF-polluted environment denser, like adding a new tech gadget to your collection.
Also, it’s not just about the insects. Exposure to massive EMF pollution has as much effect on your health as it has on them. So, you need to ensure that the places where you spend the most time, don’t have huge amounts of EMFs flowing around.
And the good thing is, you can actually test your EMF levels using a consumer-grade EMF meter. I’ve written all about it in a separate post called “What is EMF Testing.”
Once you have the measurements, you can take appropriate steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from EMF’s ill effects. I recommend checking out my “EMF Healthy Living Tips” page. It has a ton of posts to equip you with tactics to mitigate your EMF exposure without having to quit the comfort of technology. So, give it a go.