Medicine

Where's the buzz? German study finds dramatic insect decline

Where's the buzz? German study finds dramatic insect decline

The drop in airborne insects over Germany was higher than the global estimated insect decline of 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, the scientists said in a paper published Wednesday by the journal PLOS ONE.

Understanding insect numbers and the reasons behind changes to them is therefore vital to ensuring food security.

The researchers based their findings on measurements of the mass of insects caught in traps installed in 63 locations in North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Rhineland-Palatinate over the course of the past 27 years.

To get the best possible idea of the insect population in the surveyed areas the scientists used what are known as Malaise traps.

A honeybee on a shamrock flower in a garden in Hede-Bazouges, western France, July 8.

The longitudinal study was widely-anticipated by environmental scientists as a source of data on a potential trend of declining insect populations in a quality that was previously unattainable. At some points in mid-summer, the number fell by as much as 82 percent. "This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought". Previous research has shown an overall pattern of decline in insect diversity and abundance, but has focused on single species or taxonomic groups, rather than monitoring insect biomass over an extensive period. Weather and climatic changes seemed to have little bearing on the figures.

"Insects pollinate the crops we eat, they contribute to pest control, we'd have to use more pesticide".

"Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth", Dave Goulson, a biologist at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and a co-author of the new study, said in a statement. "So essentially we're talking about complete catastrophe for life on Earth".

'We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are now on course for ecological Armageddon. "On current trajectory, our grandchildren will inherit a profoundly impoverished world".

"The flying insect community as a whole. has been decimated over the last few decades", said the study, which was conducted by Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Entomological Society Krefeld in Germany. These surrounding areas inflict flying insects and they can not survive there.

Germany is losing its flying insects - and that could be bad news for the entire planet.