One Farmer's Disaster is Many Beetle's Revenge

Did you know that bug splatter on your car's windshield is a treasure trove of genomic biodiversity? Yes indeed, the DNA left behind in the bugs splattered on your car's window glass can be used to estimate the diversity of insects in the region.

I just got home from Las Vegas, which meant a spent quite a few hours in the 'fruit basket of California' or as it is more commonly known -- the San Joaquin Valley. They grow lots of grapes there, mostly for raisins and the majority of asparagus consumed in the U.S. come from there. Also lemons, mandarins, pistachios, lots of almonds plus other citrus and vegetables. In some sections, however, the water from the California Aqueduct has been rationed or even cutoff because of a continuing drought.

This means that you see a lot of signs like this:

I am not going to debate the water issues in the West today but I would like to point out that as recently as five years ago, you could drive the length of the Central Valley of California and not have a single bug splatter on your windshield. Today both times I stopped for gas I had to use a bit of the olde elbow grease to scrape scores of splats off the glass. There are several lessons here: first is the issue of broad spectrum insecticides and what just a minor decline in their use has done for the insect population.

Then there is the not so obvious matter of my transit today ending the existence of several hundred sentient creatures. I would expound on those matters but I had a nine hour drive and what I truly need is some time with my back flat on the floor, followed by ice cream.

Talk among yourselves.
splatter photo credit: John Chiembanchong