According to what's been reported as the first global scientific review, the world's insects are depleting in numbers so fast that they could vanish within a century. Based on the analysis, more than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, while this rate of extinction is said to be eight times faster than that of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Meanwhile, the planet is said to be undergoing its sixth mass extinction due to the “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades, while the insect population collapses that have already been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico are now thought to be related to a crisis that's global.
“The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet," said the scientists involved in the study, “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades. The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”
Furthermore, scientist Francisco Sánchez-Bayo states that “if insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind," while adding that the 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is “shocking.” “It is very rapid," he went on to say, "in 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”
It goes without saying that insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, with respect to their roles as pollinators, recyclers of nutrients, as well as being the main source of food for other species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. "If this food source is taken away," Sánchez-Bayo said, "all these animals will starve to death."
Of the insects most depleted, butterflies and moths are said to be among the worst hit, while bees and beetles have been reported to be on a rapid decline as well. Meanwhile, despite there being limited historical data, scientists say that there's no reason to think flies, ants, crickets, and other insects are faring any better. Meanwhile, when asked about the main cause of the decline, Sánchez-Bayo believes it's due to agricultural intensification, specifically in relation to insecticides that have been introduced in the last 20 years.