Leaf Blowers Are Killing Countless Bugs, Creating 'Insect Armageddon', German Officials Say

Researchers believe the noisy yard tools negatively affect small creatures and their habitats, therefore should be used less frequently

Leaf blower
Photo: Getty Images

Noisy leaf blowers may be bugging more than just your neighbors.

In a new report issued by Germany’s Ministry for the Environment, researchers implicate the loud lawn-care machines in an ongoing “insect armageddon.” According to the statement, the tools tend to be “fatal to insects in the foliage,” and also pose a risk to “small animals,” which can be “absorbed or blown and thereby damaged.”

While it doesn’t call for an all-out ban, the ministry said that leaf blowers should only be utilized as a last resort, not simply for everyday debris-clearing.

Insects like bees, spiders, beetles and flies are vital to the world’s environment, helping to pollinate plants, naturally decompose dead wildlife and perform other tasks key to the circle of life. Without the Earth’s billions of bugs, human life may be threatened, according to National Geographic.

Leaf blower
Leaf blower.

“I think that leaf blowers fall into the category of being ‘too tidy’ and this can be very bad for insects,” Edward Turner, a zoology lecturer at the University of Cambridge, told The Independent. “Basically, I think we just need to be a little less tidy and a little more tolerant of ‘weeds’ … I think insects, and therefore lots of other species, would benefit.”

On top of reducing pesticide and insecticide usage, Turner suggests society should also get a bit more comfortable with a slightly overgrown curb appeal.

“Generally, if we were to cut our road verges and open grass areas less frequently, let some weeds grow along our pavements and leave leaves to decompose more, I think it would benefit insects a lot,” he said.

In 2017, a study found that nature reserves in Germany had experienced a 75 percent reduction in flying bugs over the previous 27 years, according to Scientific American. The authors of the study suggested the data could indicate a more widespread rapid decline in insects around the world.

Leaf blowers were under fire in the past few years, but for a different reason. Several U.S. communities looking to reduce noise pollution in the autumn months took measures to ban the tools. In 2018, Washington, D.C. moved to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers, according to NBC4, with the ban going into full effect in January 2022.

“The essence of the bill is to deal with noise,” Mary Cheh, a D.C. council member, told NBC4 at the time. “They’re much noisier, but as a byproduct, we will also be the beneficiaries of a better environment.”

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