Scientists Warn That Some Insects Could Be Extinct Within 100 Years

Lamar Ellis
February 13, 2019

Insect populations are declining precipitously worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet, a study has warned. "If we don't have insects as moderators of other pest populations, we have insect populations that flare up and ruin crops and make them hard to grow".

Their findings, which were published this week in the Biological Conservation journal, revealed that this "bug apocalypse" might lead to the extinction of 40 percent of insect species over the next few decades.

Almost half of the world's insect species are at risk of extinction, threatening the collapse of nature.

Furthermore, scientist Francisco Sánchez-Bayo states that "if insect species losses can not be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind", while adding that the 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is "shocking".

Intensive agriculture is being blamed for the plummeting numbers, particularly the heavy use of pesticides.

MORE: Pesticide ban could threaten viability of East Anglia's sugar beet industry, farmers told The review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, looked at 73 historical reports on insects from around the world, including studies in the United Kingdom, and found insects ranging from butterflies and bees to dung beetles were among the most affected. One-third of insect species are classed as Endangered.

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The study found that declines in nearly all regions may end in the extinction of as many as 40 per cent of insects.

They do everything from providing food for small animals, pollinating 75 percent of the world's crops and replenishing soil, to limiting pest numbers.

"Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades", concluded the peer-reviewed study, which is set for publication in April. He said: 'It is very rapid.

Insects are also being hit by biological factors, such as pathogens and introduced species, and by climate change, where rising temperatures could affect the range of places where they can live.

"The essential role that insects play as food items of many vertebrates is often forgotten", the researchers said.

The authors are concerned about the impact of insect decline up along the food chain. For one thing, humans need to rethink "current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices".

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