Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect ...

Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say

The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife...

the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

“The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery,” ...

“We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.” 

The annual average fell by 76% over the 27 year period, but the fall was even higher – 82% – in summer, when insect numbers reach their peak.

The fact that the samples were taken in protected areas makes the findings even more worrying,... most of them are well-managed nature reserves. Yet, this dramatic decline has occurred.”

“Flying insects have really important ecological functions, for which their numbers matter a lot. They pollinate flowers: flies, moths and butterflies are as important as bees for many flowering plants, including some crops. They provide food for many animals – birds, bats, some mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Flies, beetles and wasps are also predators and decomposers, controlling pests and cleaning up the place generally.” [emphasis mine]

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Replies to This Discussion

<sarcasm>Typical alarmist claims! Why, insects are no more vital to the land then plankton are to the sea!</sarcasm>

We don' need no stinkin' bugs!

I taught ecology. Some life would survive without insects, but most of what we enjoy eating would be gone. 130 fruit/vegetable crops require insect pollination. Of broader concern, entire ecosystems - which we need - will collapse without them. At 6% decline/year this threat is even more urgent than climate destabilization.

Sorry, I forgot the </sarcasm> mark.

We don't need no stinkin' bugs!

Indeed! :)

Disgusted man giving thumbs-down at the odor wafting from a stinkbug

(image source)

If we could magically eliminate just one group of insects, I think I'd choose mosquitoes instead.

This female Anopheles stephensi mosquito was obtaining a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis. Note the droplet of blood being expelled from the insect’s abdomen, after having engorged itself on its host’s blood. This mosquito is a known malarial vector with a distribution that ranges from Egypt, all the way to China. (from Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)(image source)

Though how would that affect larger ecosystems, besides not spreading certain serious diseases?

Yeah and plankton is going as well.

It is alarming. We need to do more science to figure out the cause.Has this been seen anywhere else in the world? Should we go look?  The government should pay for the studies.

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