Vanishing Insects

and the Fallout for Ecosystems

Image of butterflies on pollen

“Declines in certain insect groups like bees, butterflies and even moths have been apparent for some time, according to researchers of a recent study published in PLOS One.3 However, their study looked at total flying insect biomass over a period of 27 years in 63 protected areas in Germany to assess the bigger picture. Using malaise traps, which are large, tent-like traps used for catching flying insects, the researchers set out to estimate trends in the number of flying insects in the region between 1989 and 2016.

A 76 percent decline was revealed, seasonally, while a midsummer decline of 82 percent in flying insect biomass was also recorded. The declines occurred regardless of habitat type and could not be explained solely by changes in weather, land use or varying habitat characteristics. The researchers noted:4

“Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services … This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning … “

The ramifications of disappearing insects should not be taken lightly. It’s estimated that 80 percent of wild plants depend on insects for pollination, and 60 percent of birds depend on them for food. Further, the “ecosystem services” provided by insects as a whole is estimated at $57 billion annually in the U.S. alone, the researchers noted, so “[c]learly, preserving insect abundance and diversity should constitute a prime conservation priority.”5

Sources: 

The Vanishing — Insect Extinction Is Another Canary in the Coal Mine” – by Dr. Mercola

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