'Ecological Armageddon': Warnings From Scientists as Flying Insects Disappear

Entomological Society Krefeld entomologists setting up a Malaise trapENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY KREFELD

Entomological Society Krefeld entomologists setting up a Malaise trapENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY KREFELD

Insects comprise approximately two-thirds of all life on Earth, and ecosystems depend on them to pollinate plants and provide food for many animals. "This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought".

Project leader Hans de Kroon, from the Radboud University in Nijmegen in The Netherlands, said the only thing we can do is exercise extreme caution by using fewer pesticides and maintaining wildflowers wherever possible.

The study set Malaise traps, a specialized net that captures insects, up in 63 German nature protection areas for the 27-year long study.

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By measuring the weight of the insect catch - known as the biomass - from each of the Malaise traps, researchers were able to ascertain the drop in insect numbers.

Conservation director, Andy Lester told Premier: "It is serious; many places are reporting insect losses of over 70 per cent in the last 20 years".

Concluding, they add: "Whatever the causal factors responsible for the decline, they have a far more devastating effect on total insect biomass than has been appreciated previously". What makes the troubling trend even worse is that the researchers found the decline was universal across all habitats and was seemingly not affected by weather change or the type of land the insects call home. Previous research has shown an overall pattern of decline in insect diversity and abundance, but has focused on single species or taxonomic groups, rather than monitoring insect biomass over an extensive period.

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Most of the 63 nature preserves in the study are surrounded by agricultural lands. They also suggested "agricultural intensification", including the use of pesticides, increased use of fertilizers and year-round tillage, could be a "plausible cause" for the decline. The study provides that 60% of birds need insects for food and almost 80% of plant life relies on them for pollination.

"All these areas are protected and majority are managed nature reserves".

"These surrounding areas inflict flying insects and they can not survive there", said Caspar Hallmann, researcher at Radboud.

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A new scientific study has found "dramatic" and "alarming" declines in insect populations in areas in Germany, which researchers say could have far-reaching consequences for the world's crop production and natural ecosystems.

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