Insect Armageddon: The appalling collapse of insect populations and a collaborative project to help combat it
Insect abundance has fallen by 75% over the last 27 years, according to a new study by journal Plos One. It revealed that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined with the most likely cause being that the area surrounding the reserves has become hostile to them, in terms of the volume of pesticides and destruction of habitat. Interestingly, the decline has occurred irrespective of the habitat type. This raises many questions as to the serious implications on food webs, the impact on wildlife of changes in farming practice and essentially; for all life on Earth.
Guardian graphic | Source: Hallmann et al, PLOS ONE
This shocking study ties in with work that Stats4sd staff are doing with a CCRP project – Botanical Pesticides II, which involves scientists from The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania, as well as the National Resources Institute (University of Greenwich) and Kew Gardens in the UK.
The researchers are studying botanical pesticides, which have less impact on insect populations because they are designed to repel insects, not kill them. They are made from local and common plants and the active ingredients break down quickly, which is an environmental advantage, though it also means that farmers need to apply them often. Significantly, they are also far less toxic to people than artificial insecticides and hence safer to use and result in safer crops.