Quite Dangerous; Air Pollution Deprives Smell in Insects

flower insect

Have you ever imagined a situation where the birds and insects around us lose the power to scent flowers? Once they lose the scent, then it could be hard that any pollination takes place leading to less flowering and fruits. A new research found that air pollution is having a negative impact on the ability of the insects to smell flowers.


Ryalls, a biologist at the University of Reading in England and his group worked in a field of black mustard plants. They constructed a system made up of rings eight meters (26 feet) in diameter. Each area was open, so nearby insects could fly into it. The researchers pumped pollutant gases into these rings. Two rings received diesel fumes. Two more got ozone. Another two got both gases. A final pair of rings was a control and received no added gases. The tests took place over two summers. During each field season, the scientists counted how many times insects visited the flowers in each ring. Noting that the results showed severe impact, Ryalls said that both the diesel exhaust and ozone pollution caused up to 90 percent less insects to be able to find the flowers that they need for food. This was in comparison to the pollutant-free rings. In some cases, only some 30 percent of the pollinating insects even entered the circles with piped in pollution. The new data show impacts of the air pollution on seven groups of insects including bees, moths, hoverflies and butterflies. The team tallied insect visits to flowers. Later, they counted seedpods on the plants. Overall, only around seven in every 10 flowers had been pollinated. That means there were far fewer seeds in polluted circles. If these were fruit or vegetable plants, there would have been far less food produced.


Most insects heavily rely on olfaction to find their food and mating partners. As many of the known flower odours are chemically fragile and can easily become degraded by oxidants, The Environmental pollution journal published the study Ryalls mentions that this is not good news for insects as well us for the Humans. If insects cannot smell, they do not get the food. More, if insects do not get to the flowers, then the food supply chain is affected.


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