Insect populations on Earth are declining by the thousands

Insect populations on Earth are declining by the thousands

Scientists say the planet’s insect populations are experiencing a decline — in some places by a factor of 1,000. “Frightening” global decline is “tearing at the fabric of life,” and the climate crisis is a major concern, say lead authors from the University of Connecticut.

Insects face many overlapping threats, including destruction of natural habitat due to agriculture, urbanization, pesticides and light pollution. Mass extinctions have been reported in places dominated by human activity, such as Germany, but there is little data from outside Europe and North America, particularly from the wild tropical regions where most insects live.

Scientists are particularly concerned that the climate crisis could cause serious damage to the tropics. But even though much more data are needed, researchers say enough is already known to take urgent action.

Insects are by far the most diverse and numerous organisms on Earth, with millions of species. They are essential to the ecosystems on which humanity depends, from pollinating plants to recycling waste. Twelve new studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have shown that all insect populations are experiencing severe declines, which could have global ecological and economic consequences.