Scientists Warn That Beneficial Bugs Are In Decline

Posted: Sep 21 2018, 5:52am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 21 2018, 5:56am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Scientists Warn that Beneficial Bugs are in Decline
Credit: Lina Arenas/University of Exeter

Researchers suggest that beneficial flying insects are declining dramatically worldwide.

Researchers have documented a steep decline in the population of non-pest insects across the globe.

Apparently, mosquitoes, disease-carrying ticks and cockroaches' populations are stable but in recent years there has been increasing concern about the widespread decline in beneficial flying insects like bees, moths, butterflies and ladybug species. These insects play a vital role in maintaining the natural balance in ecosystems and preventing harmful insects from taking over essential natural resources. Moreover, some of these are important pollinators that increase the production of several crops. They are also a key part of the food chain.

“You have total ecosystem collapse if you lose your insects. How much worse can it get than that?" said University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy. “The world would start to rot.”

While it is well documented that butterflies and bees have been disappearing in some parts of the world, there is no actual data on overall dwindling populations of non-pest insects. The lack of data makes it really difficult to determine the extent of loss.

"We don't know how much we're losing if we don't know how much we have.” University of Hawaii entomologist Helen Spafford said in a statement.

To assess the decline in good bugs population, researchers used a totally different un-scientific method called windshield test. They observed windshields, car grilles and headlights and noticed a strongly decreasing trend. The dramatic fall in these groups of insects is in line with the results of recent German, Dutch and Canadian studies. Since the mid-1990s, an 80 percent drop of flying insects’ population has been observed in Germany.

“It's clearly not a German thing," said University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, who reported declines in moth populations in the northeastern United States. "We just need to find out how widespread the phenomenon is."

The worldwide decline in insect population is attributed to many factors. The factors include habitat loss, insecticide use, attacks of invasive species, light pollution, highway traffic and climate change. Tallamy says. "We're hitting insects during the day, we're hitting them at night. We're hitting them just about everywhere."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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