Think of Japan in the spring, and the image that comes to mind is likely the country’s famous cherry blossoms, also known as “sakura” — white and pink flowers, blooming across cities and mountains, their petals covering the ground. But this year, cherry blossom season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, and scientists warn it’s a symptom of the larger climate crisis threatening ecosystems everywhere.
Plants and insects rely heavily on each other, and both use environmental cues to regulate the timing of different stages of their life cycles. For instance, plants sense the temperature around them and if it’s warm enough for a consistent period, they start to flower and their leaves start to emerge. Similarly, insects and other animals depend on temperature for their life cycles, meaning higher heat can cause faster growth.