Insect Crash 2019

Insect Crash (from the series Re:Tracing Dietrich) 2019

Digital print on paper, edition 1/5, 110cm x 264cm.

“The Insect Apocalypse is Here,” declared a New York Times Magazine story by Brooke Jarvis at the end of 2018. It reported on a German study that put concrete data behind something that scientists had been discussing amongst themselves for years. This ground breaking and terrifying research found that flying insects fell by 75 percent in just 27 years in 63 nature reserves all across Germany. The German research showed that the abundance of all flying insects — wasps, flies, butterflies, bees, dragonflies, beetles, etc. — had plunged dramatically. Then this April, a new paper hit the news, a meta-study analysing the findings of 73 insect studies worldwide, with its authors claiming insect abundance was falling at a rate of 2.5 percent of total global biomass every year. Scientists do not know why this is happening but suspect it is linked agriculture intensification along with habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.

As a child I remember watching my dad work for hours to clean the car after long trips in the countryside. He struggled to scrub the dead insect jam from the windshield and the bonnet; laboriously prising out hundreds of hard little bodies that were lodged deep in the radiator grill. In the two weeks I was on the road, retracing Dietrich’s journey, the campervan windscreen rarely needed a clean. Near the Mount Carlton mine on dusk a lone dragonfly lodged itself the wipers; I pulled up on the verge and carefully placed its twisted body in a jar.

This photographic work features all the flying insects I collected in a Malaise Trap over six days (13-18 February 2016) in Edgecumbe Heights Recreational Reserve Horseshoe Bay, Bowen, Queensland. Latitude: -19.9875 Longitude: 148.2587.

All artwork and content © Michelle Vine 2019

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