The Superbowl commands top dollar for advertiser airtime. Advertisers spend considerable resources to make commercials that are compelling and memorable. Some of the best commercials feature insects. Last year, Volkswagen had a hit with their CGI beetle racing through the jungle. This year, Chevy Sonic starred with CGI insects joy riding on the grill of the car. The hit commercial (below) features a dragonfly with crash helmet landing on the grill with an exhilarating shout.
Commercials often use fantasy to sell products because cold hard reality does not elicit the emotional charge needed to motivate the audience to become consumers. Fantasy shows us CGI insects joy riding in the grill of a car. The hard cold reality is 32 Trillion insects killed by cars every year. Cars are an important mortality factor for many species of wildlife including insects.
Conservation biologists are interested in the impact that roads have on endangered or threatened species. Among the insects on the US Endangered Species List is the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, which suffers significant mortality from collisions with cars in part of its range. Conservation Biologists, Soluk, Zercher and Worthington (Biological Conservation. Volume 144:1638–1643.May 2011) studied dragonfly roadkill mortality along a stretch of Illinois highway. They found that some species, especially those that fly low to the ground are more likely than other species to be killed by cars. Dragonfly species that can move vertically with more agility are less likely to be killed as are dragonflies that cruise at a height above most of the traffic. Careful planning and study is needed when roads are placed in sensitive locations.