A new study published in the journal Biological Conservation described as “a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe” makes a grim prediction: “dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades.”
Insects could completely disappear from the Earth within 100 years if they continue to decline at current rates, The Guardian notes: “More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”
Pesticides used in an intensive agriculture industry, urban sprawl, and climate change are all factors in insects’ decline.
Wrote the researchers: “The trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting life forms on our planet. Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades. The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”
Said said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who co-wrote the review, to The Guardian: “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”
Added CNN: ‘Some 80% of wild plants use insects for pollination while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study. Sands said an immediate danger of the insect decline was the loss of insectivorous birds, and the risk of larger birds turning from eating insects to eating each other.In his native Australia, “birds that are running out of insect food are turning on each other,” [the report’s co-author, Caspar Hallman] said, adding that this is likely a global phenomenon.’