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A study revealed that insects could vanish in the future because of their rapid population decline.
Researchers made this discovery after analyzing 73 existing reports on the insect population around the world. Their findings showed that the insect population has been steadily decreasing by 2.5% every year in the last three decades. At this rate, lead researcher Francisco Sánchez-Bayo predicts that 40% of insect species, including moths, butterflies, beetles, and bees, can totally disappear within 100 years.
Sánchez-Bayo attributed the decline to four important factors: pollution, climate change, spread of diseases, and loss of habitat due to urbanization, agriculture, and deforestation. He noted, however, that 40% of the reports particularly put the blame on the widespread use of pesticides in agriculture.
The researchers said that this study is the wake-up call needed to improve farming practices. If the use of pesticides continues, the insect population will further decrease and the ecosystem can suffer as a result. Without insects, some birds will not have food and plants will lose important pollinators.
Matt Shardlow, a conservationist, was alarmed by the findings and called for a worldwide effort to end the insects’ population decline. But in his opinion, global warming is a bigger threat to insects than pesticides. He also speculated that light pollution or the excessive use of artificial light negatively affects the survival rate of insects.
On the other hand, ecologist Manu Saunders claims that the findings were exaggerated. She argued that many insect species are yet to be discovered, so what affects them and their life cycles are still unknown to scientists.