FERN’s Friday Feed: Where have all the bugs gone?

Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.

A world without insects

The New York Times

Citizen scientists are among the frontline of researchers studying the decline of insect populations across the world. One recent study found a “vast impoverishment of an entire insect universe, even in protected areas where insects ought to be under less stress,” writes Brooke Jarvis. Experts and lay-people alike are wondering, “How could something as fundamental as the bugs in the sky just disappear? And what would become of the world without them?”

Turkey plant workers among 200,000 who may soon be deported

The Washington Post

The Trump administration wants to deport 200,000 workers from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Sudan, who came to the U.S. under a temporary protected immigration status. Trump and immigration advocates who have sued to stop the deportations await a federal verdict. “The ruling has major implications for thousands of Haitian immigrants and their newfound communities, as the two groups have become economically intertwined,” writes Damian Paletta. “Extended families in Haiti rely on wages from relatives in the United States, and U.S. companies — including major American brands like Butterball — need their immigrant workforce.”

Smithfield’s failed promise to replace open-air manure pits

The News & Observer

In 2000, North Carolina state officials and Smithfield Foods entered into an agreement: Smithfield would research an alternative hog manure disposal method than its typical open-air pits, and install the best method within three years. Eighteen years later, nothing has changed. “The state has yet to come up a viable replacement system, and the momentum — and money — behind the research ran out years ago, leaving in place a crude practice that grows more hazardous with each hurricane that pounds North Carolina,” writes Talia Buford.

A D.C. chef’s downfall has implications for the city’s restaurant scene


Mike Isabella’s empire fell soon after his highest-ranking woman employee filed a lawsuit alleging rampant sexual harassment in his company. But the story of Isabella’s rise and fall extends beyond the power of #MeToo and the consequences for high-profile men who harass employees. “How the prince of Washington dining became its pariah is the story of a chef who was addicted to the spotlight, but also of a city that was starving for hometown stars and a gentrifying restaurant economy that was all too eager to feed them,” write Jessica Sidman and Anna Spiegel.

Ears hurting after you leave the coffee shop? There’s a reason.

The Atlantic

Today’s hip restaurants and bars are commonly outfitted in sparse, mid-century modern decor, and all those hard, wooden surfaces can make for a noisy eating environment. “These design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears,” writes Kate Wagner. “No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.”