Insects could be extinct within a century, scientists say

Sergio Conner
February 13, 2019

The total mass of insects - which now outweighs humanity by 17 times over - is falling by 2.5 percent a year, which suggests they could vanish altogether within the next century.

"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", he said.

The warning was issued in a global review of insect declines, in which the authors called for a dramatic rethinking of agricultural practices and better strategies for cleaning polluted waters.

But insects are extremely important to ecosystems worldwide, and according to a new report, more than 40 percent of insect species are on the path to extinction.

The repercussions of insect extinction would be "catastrophic to say the least", according to the report, as insects have been at "the structural and functional base of numerous world's ecosystems since their rise ... nearly 400 million years ago".

"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", stated Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and an author of the study. The entire family of insects is slowly falling by 2.5% a year, according to some studies.

Scientists believe that intensive agriculture and the heavy use of pesticides are the main drivers of the massive insect loss which may finally lead to many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects starving to death. To conduct the study, researchers from The University of Sydney, the University of Queensland, and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences reviewed 73 reports chronicling the decline of insect populations all over the world, and analyzed the data.

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While researches have also noted Urbanisation and climate change are significant factors.

"It is very rapid".

A leading Norfolk farming conservationist said farmers were already at the forefront of finding ways to reverse the decline of insects and wildlife - but all parts of society needed to work together to find solutions rather than "naming and shaming" individual sectors.

Next was pollution and the widespread use of pesticides in commercial agriculture.

They pollinate around 75 per cent of global crops, keep the numbers of pests in check and provide a food source for birds, bats and small mammals.

"Climate change is one of the big reasons we have got to obviously start and tackle climate change properly, to tackle it and also reduce it".

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