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Insects disappearing, leaving threat of pest plague

Insects disappearing, leaving threat of pest plague


Up to 40 per cent of insect species in the world is undergoing “dramatic rates of decline” and can disappear.

That is the grim conclusion of scientific researchers whose findings have been published in the journal Biological Conservation. It follows a review of some 73 studies on the subject carried out over the past 13 years, going further than individual studies which have indicated that some insect species, bees in particular, have been suffering huge declines in numbers.

The expanded examination indicates that the danger is much more extensive. Up to one-third of the world’s insect species is considered endangered, a situation which can cause a catastrophic collapse of ecosystems. Insects account for the majority of creatures on land and provide key benefits to the environment as well as to humans. They make up the most important source of food for birds, bats and small mammals; are instrumental in pollination and replenishing the soil; and also help to keep down the pest population.

The impact of their decline will be felt right along the food chain as birds, reptiles and fish are very dependent on insects for their food supply. This has caused the scientists to conclude that their rapid decline in numbers is tantamount to a “biological annihilation” of wildlife.

The flip side of this threat is equally scary since while such insects as bees and butterflies are disappearing, the world will face the danger of plagues of such nuisances as houseflies and cockroaches which tend to adapt and evolve, including developing resistance to pesticides.

The scientists blame the effects of intensive agriculture, pesticide use causing chemical pollutants and contamination for these dangerous developments and make a plea for much more healthy agricultural practices as in organic agriculture.