Some insect populations could be extinct within a century, according to research published by a group of global scientists. The study takes a look at 73 historical reports which have hinted at the death of insects around the world, finding that the mass of all insects on Earth is declining by 2.5% per year.
A new report found that 40% of insect species are declining, with a third endangered, according to a global scientific review of research.
The repercussions of insect extinction would be "catastrophic to say the least", according to the report, as insects have been at "the structural and functional base of numerous world's ecosystems since their rise ... nearly 400 million years ago".
"Fast-breeding pest insects will probably thrive because of the warmer conditions, because many of their natural enemies, which breed more slowly, will disappear", Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex, not involved in the study, tells the BBC's McGrath.
The main driver behind the decline, they found, was habitat loss due to intensive agriculture and urbanisation.
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Insects are also being hit by biological factors, such as pathogens and introduced species, and by climate change, where rising temperatures could affect the range of places where they can live, it says. The loss of any large insect population will throw an ecosystem into disarray, ultimately affecting every other species, including apex predators like humans.
"It's not just about bees, or even about pollination and feeding ourselves - the declines also include dung beetles that recycle waste and insects like dragonflies that start life in rivers and ponds", said Matt Shardlow from United Kingdom campaigners Buglife.
Speaking with The Guardian, report co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney said: "If insect species losses can not be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind".
"It is very rapid". The "dramatic" fall suggests none will be left in 100 years, warned Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, of the University of Sydney's School of Life and Environmental Sciences. There are 17 times more insects around the world than humans, according to another study. Further Reading:Climate change cited in dwindling of Puerto Rico insects Besides being a food source for birds and many bats and small animals, insects pollinate over 75 percent of our food crops, help in replenishing the soil and keep other insects in check. This potential extinction will have a huge - negative - impact on all of the forms of life from our planet.