Massive insect decline could have 'catastrophic' environmental impact, study says

Urban cockroaches might do well amid a collapse of insect populations globally

And as Business Insidernoted, the report estimates that the insects are declining eight times as fast as mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Insects outnumber humans by a huge margin.

Restoring wilderness areas and a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertiliser are likely the best way to slow the insect loss, they said.

The new paper, which was published in the journal Biological Conservation, takes a broader look at overall insect populations.

Meanwhile, when asked about the main cause of the decline, Sánchez-Bayo believes it's due to agricultural intensification, specifically in relation to insecticides that have been introduced in the last 20 years.

Almost half of the world's insect species are at risk of extinction, threatening the collapse of nature. Invasive species, pathogens and climate change are also getting punches in.

According to the study's authors, insects have served as the "structural and functional base of numerous world's ecosystems since their rise. nearly 400 million years ago".

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Said said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who co-wrote the review, to The Guardian: "It is very rapid".

We learned that more than 40% of the species of insects are declining and a third is already endangered.

What we need to do is to change the way we make food, or we can say our goodbyes to the insects. The pollination of both crops and wild plants would also be affected, along with nutrient cycling in the soil. He added that many species of animals that rely on insects as their main food source could be wiped out, which would only increase pest numbers.

Indeed, "ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the U.S.", according to an earlier study.

"It is becoming increasingly obvious our planet's ecology is breaking and there is a need for an intense and global effort to halt and reverse these awful trends" Matt Shardlow of the United Kingdom advocacy group Buglife tells Matt McGrath at the BBC. Based on the findings of the report, Statista has drawn up this handy - and, frankly, worrying - infographic of insects and their percentage decline over the past decade. "It's quite plausible that we might end up with plagues of small numbers of pest insects, but we will lose all the wonderful ones that we want, like bees and hoverflies and butterflies and dung beetles that do a great job of disposing of animal waste".

"The conclusion is clear: unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades", they concluded.

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