In Germany, flying insects are disappearing at a rapid rate

Ebony Scott
October 20, 2017

"This is the first study that looked into the total biomass of flying insects and it confirms our worries", co-author Caspar Hallmann, from the Radboud University in The Netherlands, told BBC. There is also a worrying drop of 82 per cent in the summer - the high season for insects indicating that the highest losses occur when biomass is highest during a season. "This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought".

The number of flying insects has plummeted by 75 per cent in the last 25 years, according to a study that suggests we are approaching an "ecological Armageddon".

Entomologists (insect researchers) in Krefeld, Germany, led by Martin Sorg and Heinz Schwan, collected data over the past 27 years in 63 different places within nature reserves across Germany.

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By measuring the weight of the insect catch - known as the biomass - from each of the Malaise traps, researchers were able to ascertain the drop in insect numbers.

They tracked the rapid decline across 96 unique location-year combinations in Germany, which is "representative of Western European low-altitude nature protection areas embedded in a human-dominated landscape", as they wrote in the peer-reviewed study, published in the journal PLOS ONE. Although the data gathered for this study was from a specific region of the world, it carries implications for a global ecology struggling to adapt to rapidly changing climate and environmental conditions. "But exactly what is causing their death is open to debate". Researchers said in order to try and neutralize the issue, there should be less pesticide usage and there should be an extension of protected nature reserves. "The research areas are mostly small and enclosed by agricultural areas. It is possible that these areas act as an "ecological trap" and jeopardize the populations in the nature reserves", explains Hallmann.

A new scientific study has found "dramatic" and "alarming" declines in insect populations in areas in Germany, which researchers say could have far-reaching consequences for the world's crop production and natural ecosystems. Because the causes of the decline are not yet known, it is hard to take any concrete measures. "We need to do less of the things that we know have a negative impact", said De Kroon, "such as the use of pesticides and the disappearance of farmland borders full of flowers".

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