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Insect populations are dying at ‘frightening’ rates, scientists warn

Insect populations are dying at ‘frightening’ rates, scientists warn

Global populations of insects are experiencing "death by a thousand cuts," top scientists have warned. 

Insect populations are dying at ‘frightening’ rates, scientists warn

A new scientific review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the world’s insect populations are falling at “frightening” rates.

University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner led the collection of 12 studies written by 56 scientists from around the world.

The planet is losing 1-2% of its insects every year, an ecological disaster that could “tear apart the tapestry of life,” the review concludes.

Insects are vital to the natural world, pollinating much of the world’s crops and play a key role in waste management.

Places like Germany, where human activities dominate, have recorded population collapses.

Destruction of wild habitats for agriculture, urbanisation, insecticides, light pollution and climate change are some of the factors threatening the insect populations.

“Nature is under siege,” says Wagner. “Most biologists agree that the world has entered its sixth mass extinction event.”

Wagner warns that with these severe insect declines, the world may see global ecological and economic consequences. “You’re losing 10-20% of your animals over a single decade and that is just absolutely frightening.”

Wagner says a stable human population, sustainable consumption levels and social justice that empowers poorer nations are key to mitigating the effects of the mass insect extinction.

Other studies pinpoint actions individuals can take. Cutting pesticide use, rewilding gardens and limiting outdoor lighting are all valuable actions people can do to help save the insect populations.

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