Living among insects: Organizing human spaces to allow for insect flourishing

Authors: Rebecca Ellis*, University of Western Ontario
Topics: Animal Geographies, Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography
Keywords: bees, insects, agriculture, more than human
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Astor Ballroom III, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

There is growing awareness, both among entomologists and the general public, that the Earth is facing an unprecedented crisis in the mass defaunation of insects (Hallman et al 2017) what environmental writer George Monbiot calls an “insectageddon” (2017). The reasons for this are complex and multifaceted, but most research points to the combined effects of industrial agricultural and climate change (Woodcock et al 2017; Ogilvie et al 2017).

Although there is a vague idea that insects matter to humans with the concept of “ecosystem services” being widely used (especially in reference pollination), the flourishing of insects is of relatively little importance to most people. In fact, most landscaping and agricultural practices directly harm insects. In this paper, I will argue that the lives of insects not only matter but that insect flourishing should be a focus of everyday spatial practices. My emphasis will be on two types of insects commonly encountered by humans– bees and wasps. Bees are perhaps the most charismatic group of insects whereas wasps, their closely related cousins, are generally reviled. I will argue that human interference in the lives of bees and wasps should primarily be to allow for their flourishing not to use them for human benefit. To this end, fundamental changes to agriculture and to urban spatial practices are urgently required.

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