Home / Science / A new study confirms that insects are disappearing at an alarming rate.

A new study confirms that insects are disappearing at an alarming rate.



Every year, the number of insects flying, crawling or burrowing in certain parts of the world is reduced by a percentage or two. That means the severely reduced area could lose up to a third of all insects in two decades.

That’s the bad news that scientists reveal today. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Dozens of insect specialists have contributed to a series of reports in a journal on whether better or worse is the spread of pests around the world.

The good news, if found, is that not all insects are rapidly declining. Some people even flourished And most importantly, the researchers say, there is hope to fill our planet with the most abundant and diverse life forms.

The insect world, which is estimated to contain as many as 1

0 million, is experiencing more than one problem. Threats range from deforestation to climate change., And invasive species to industrial agriculture and even light pollution. (Further reading: Where have all the bugs gone?)

“Death by a thousand cuts” is how David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut, contributed to the new report.

Healthy insect populations are important for a number of reasons, from the way they support the world’s food supply to how they produce flowers in the backyard through pollination. Although most of us do not want to encounter many of the world’s smallest creatures. But their role in our lives cannot be exaggerated. Scientists say it’s not necessary to make life-saving insects in the first place.

“Insects, like all natural worlds, are declining,” said Matthew Forister, an insect ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, who contributed to the report. “But insects clearly have the possibility of bouncing. It’s still not too late “

Beyond hyperbole

The report of global insect declines is not new. In recent years, more and more studies and news have focused on the issue in a completely different light – the announcement of the Armageddon, in a sense, to report challenging ideas about The revelation awaits the disclosure of the other six legs.

Wagner said he and the other researchers involved in the new report aim to go beyond the nihilism by analyzing as much research as possible about the current global state of insects.

“This is a more carefully linked and more critical assessment,” he said, rather than some previous reports highlighting severe losses in a particular region and projecting them around the world.

Checkered white butterfly (Pontia ProtodiceFeed on Texas vervain.

Photo by Rolf Nussbaumer, Nature Picture Library

Are insects declining at an alarming rate? Yes, he said, more complicated than the collapse of the world? Yes!

Forster, for example, who studied butterflies in the American West, pointed to two organisms that represented very different situations.

The fritillary gulf, commonly found in the southern United States, Mexico and Central America, is now thriving in California because people there cultivate vines, a popular ornamental plant.

In contrast, the large marbled butterfly, which thrives in the invasive mustard plant, has spread so rapidly that its populations collapse, likely three times a victim of climate change, habitat loss and medicine. Kill insects

Forister’s study focuses on climate change affecting butterflies. The species is struggling with wildfires, droughts and extreme climates, and while previous theories have indicated that butterflies in mountainous regions may move up or down the mountain to take advantage of better conditions, the species is already struggling. But at least that’s not the case. For all species

Other species include the famous monarch butterfly., It performed better than expected in the summers of 2011 to 2015, when the warmer climates allowed more time to reproduce. But that hasn’t stopped the monarch’s continued decline in the west. (Learn why the Western Monarchs were denied protection for endangered species.)

How can we help?

Amidst the shocking statistics, Forister and Wagner said there was hope.

Germany pledged nearly $ 120 million in insect conservation, monitoring and research. In 2019, Costa Rica endorsed an international organization spending $ 100 million to store and sequencing DNA fragments of “all multicellular organisms in the country.” Decade ”, which will be of great importance. For the countless unknown tropical insects, Wagner wrote in the report’s introduction article.

Citizen scientists are stepping up to help expand their knowledge base.The iNaturalist app, where users upload images to identify and categorize, has become one of the largest insect observatories.

Tackling comprehensive problems like climate change requires new laws and policies, but individuals themselves can make a difference to backyard insects, neighborhoods and communities, Wagner and Forister said. (Read how the bees will become extinct in times of climate chaos.)

One way is to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides on your lawn. Better yet, consider converting your lawn into a natural area. Insect habitats can rise by more than four million acres in the United States if every home, school, and park 10 percent lawn plots, entomologist Akito Y. Kawahara of the University of Florida in Gainesville wrote in the PNAS report, cultivating native plants and limiting outdoor lighting. That attract and often kill insects that are nocturnal

Lusha Tronstad, an invertebrates zoologist with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, who is studying the decline of the western bumblebee and was not involved in this report. Do not knock the leaves before winter.

“People can be a little lazy and that will benefit insects,” she said. (There are nine ways to support bees and other pollinators at home.)

Tronstad also notes that the fate of the breed can change rapidly for better or for worse. Western bumblebee has dropped 93 percent in just two decades.

In the meantime, the endangered Karner blue butterfly, named by author and entomologist Vladimir Nabokov, has been a good response to restoration efforts, Wagner said. It has long been suffering from fires and residential and commercial development in sandy habitats from the edge of the Great Lakes to New England, efforts to grow and promote Lupine, which adult and body Young wants – and other housing improvement projects are helping.

Will small personal changes, such as limiting the use of pesticides on your lawn, prevent the worst effects of climate change? No, Forister says, but it will make a difference to your local insect population, and those differences increase.


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