Insects could be wiped out within 100 years ‘leading to global collapse of nature’
Over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction
Over 40 per cent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, according to the first global scientific review of research. This means that the planet's insects are rapidly moving towards extinction at a rate eight times faster than birds, mammals or reptiles.
The new report has sparked fears of a 'total collapse of nature' according to scientists, with some warning that insects could be wiped out completely within 100 years.
Insects, which outweigh humans by 17 times in terms of total mass, are 'essential' for the function of all ecosystems, researchers say, as food, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. If they were lost completely, it would have a 'catastrophic' impact on the environment as a whole.
Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney, who co-wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, told the Guardian: "If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind.
"It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none."
The biggest impact will come in terms of the animals that eat insects - fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles - which will starve and die out without their abundant food source. The Guardian also reports that such effects are already evident in Puerto Rico, where a recent study has shown a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.
In the paper itself the researchers conclude: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.
“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.”