Researchers See 'Horrific Decline' in Insect Numbers

Scientist warns of 'ecological Armageddon'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2017 4:29 AM CDT
Researchers See 'Horrific Decline' in Insect Numbers
An entomologist with the Department of Agriculture inspects an insect caught in a trap in Sibley Park in Mankato, Minn.   (Jackson Forderer/The Free Press via AP)

If it seems like there are fewer squished bugs on your windshield after long journeys than in years past, you're not imagining things: Researchers say there appears to have been a steep and extremely worrying decline in insect populations in recent decades. In a study published in the journal Plos One, researchers say testing carried out over 27 years at 63 nature reserve sites in Germany found a reduction in flying-insect numbers of more than 75% between 1989 and 2016. The "overall pattern of decline in insect diversity and abundance" is alarming, not least because many plants rely on the insects for pollination, and many kinds of mammals, 60% of birds, and some reptiles rely on insects for food.

"Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth, [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline," says researcher Dave Goulson of Sussex University, per the Guardian. "We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects, then everything is going to collapse." Researchers say the causes of the alarming decline aren't entirely clear, though climate change, widespread pesticide use, and changes to the landscape made by industrial-scale agriculture have probably played a role. (The "land lobster" is alive and well after having earlier been thought extinct.)

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