While bugs might not make everyone's list of favorite animals they play a vital role in the world’s ecosystems and today they face an existential threat.
Globally, 40% of insect species are in decline, amounting to a 2.5% decrease each year.
The cause is linked primarily to man-made pesticides. Industrial farms spray their crops with barrels of pesticides each year, killing insects and preventing larval development. Studies from Puerto Rico and Germany show the devastating impact of industrial farming in local areas, and the effects are believed to be worldwide.
Other factors include global warming and urbanization, which have reduced insect habitats and damaged the environment.
The decline in insects, while startling on its face, has even greater impact on the world at large.
Insects are essential to most of the world’s ecosystems. Pollinating insects generate plant species, while continuing the cycle of life. Carnivorous insects devour rotting carcasses, clearing habitats of dangerous bacteria. And insects as a whole are the primary food source for countless species, making it hard to see how the world could function without them.
Many scientists fear the decline in insects marks the beginning of the sixth mass extinction – a catastrophic event that would have wide-ranging and centuries-long effects.
Luckily there is still time left to prevent this global disaster. You can help today by purchasing products from organic farms that use fewer pesticides and supporting local advocacy groups.
Check the gallery to see more insects at risk and find out more about how you can help in the links below.