Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Global insect decline may see 'plague of pests' like flies and cockroaches

Global insect decline may see 'plague of pests' like flies and cockroaches

Insects are also the world's top pollinators - 75 per cent of 115 top global food crops depend on animal pollination, including cocoa, coffee, almonds and cherries. Additionally, when insects die, they return nutrients to the earth; insects are at the bottom of the food chain, with many small animals relying on insects as food; and some insects help with pest control, according to a National Geographicinterview with author David MacNeal.

The total volume of insects in the world is decreasing by 2.5% a year, a rate that indicates widespread extinctions within a century, the report found.

The main driver behind the decline, they found, was habitat loss due to intensive agriculture and urbanisation.

"That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides", University of Sydney's Francisco Sánchez-Bayo told The Guardian.

The new study shows 41 percent of insect species have seen steep declines in the past decade, with similar drops forecast for the near future.

They are dying out eight times faster than mammals, birds and reptiles, with more than 40 per cent of species declining and a third endangered.

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Of the insects most depleted, butterflies and moths are said to be among the worst hit, while bees and beetles have been reported to be on a rapid decline as well.

"Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades", the report said.

Over 40% of global insect species are threatened with extinction, scientists said in a new report, marking an unprecedented loss of biodiversity.

"Second is the increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture worldwide and contamination with chemical pollutants of all kinds". Even with this shocking rate of insect losses, they are, by far, the most abundant and varied of animals - outweighing the Earth's human population by 17 times over.

Jake Fiennes, conservation general manager at the Holkham Estate and a member of the National Farmers' Union's environment forum, said: "We can all accept that there has been a decline in insects, whether we gain our information as a result of scientific data or anecdotes", he said.

While some of our most important insect species are in retreat, the review also finds that a small number of species are likely to be able to adapt to changing conditions and do well.

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