What’s Happening to the Insects and Should We Be Worried?

A new scientific study has shown that the insect populations are declining dramatically due to many factors such as monoculture farming and the loss of habitat. The worst thing of all is that most people don’t understand the important role the insects play in our ecosystem. So the question is – should we be worried about what’s happening to the insects?

A new scientific study has shown that the insect populations are declining dramatically due to many factors such as monoculture farming and the loss of habitat. The worst thing of all is that most people don't understand the important role the insects play in our ecosystem. So the question is - should we be worried about what's happening to the insects?

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And the answer is – yes. It is a fact that insects help create life as we know. From the bees and butterflies that pollinate vegetable and fruits to the beetles breaking down decaying animals and taking care of food leftovers on the city streets, insects are here to help us. Even though they are pretty annoying at times (especially mosquitoes and the irritating itching of their bites) we wouldn’t be better off without them.

The cause and evidence of insect decline

The study conducted in Germany showed that in past 27 years, flying insect populations have declined by more than 75%! By measuring insects biomass (the weight of the insect catch) from each of the traps (Malaise traps, a kind of net that catches insects) set up in 63 nature protection areas in this country, researchers documented the alarming drop in insects numbers. The fact that the study recorded the declines in protected areas means that for urban or agricultural areas the numbers are even higher.

The study conducted in Germany showed that in past 27 years, flying insect populations have declined by more than 75%! By measuring insects biomass (the weight of the insect catch) from each of the traps (Malaise traps, a kind of net that catches insects) set up in 63 nature protection areas in this country, researchers documented the alarming drop in insects numbers. The fact that the study recorded the declines in protected areas means that for urban or agricultural areas the numbers are even higher.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uqbar/17908372683

Entomologists say that it is unlikely that there’s only one main cause that is responsible for insect decline but a combination of factors such as increased use of pesticides and herbicides, climate change and loss of insect habitats. Lighting pollution in large populous cities is also one of the reasons for the decline of insects, fireflies to be exact since fireflies use their glowing rears to signal to potential predator they are not food, and they get confused by human-made light sources. Which leads us to the inevitable fact – the loss of insect diversity is going to jeopardize our ecosystem.

We needed the warning

The case of German study was the warning we needed. After identifying the problem of declining number of insects, the obvious next step is finding a solution, but it has to be done quickly since the consequences are going to be severe. Insects are very important for our food web, not only because they pollinate our food, but also because some insects like ladybugs help keep pests in check and therefore in a way take care of our crops.

Also, other insect-eating creatures like bats are affected by the declining of insect populations that can make a serious disbalance in our ecosystem. According to a study conducted in 2016, bats are also on a decline since these insectivores don’t have enough food. Along with bats, many bird species rely on insects as food, almost 60% of all birds out there and unsurprisingly, there are almost 40% fewer birds species now than there were 40 years ago.

Also, other insect-eating creatures like bats are affected by the declining of insect populations that can make a serious disbalance in our ecosystem. According to a study conducted in 2016, bats are also on a decline since these insectivores don't have enough food. Along with bats, many bird species rely on insects as food, almost 60% of all birds out there and unsurprisingly, there are almost 40% fewer birds species now than there were 40 years ago.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pldms/5850403553

Pests need to be controlled

Meanwhile, Pestworks professionals explain that insect populations aren’t declining equally – some pests like ticks and mosquitoes are on the upswing, and other pests (that target the crops) are becoming resistant to the chemicals like pesticides. That means that we are getting rid of insects that are actually beneficial for us while the ones that are killing our crops flourish more. And it is time to do go green to stop these numbers from rising.

Education is the solution

Tanya Latti, a researcher and a teacher in entomology at Sydney University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences says: “The first step is acknowledging that we have a problem, and working to correct that – how do we design our agriculture to encourage insects? It could be something as simple as growing wildflowers along the edges of fields.”

Well, the solution lies in improving people’s education around insect populations and the ways to deal with pests because it is crucial to our own survival. Instead of just being worried about insects decline, it is about time to make some changes, to find organic alternatives and stop using harmful chemicals and to save our ecosystem!

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