What will happen if insects get extinct? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Saturday, 13 July 2019

What will happen if insects get extinct?

The planet is at the start of sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. The world’s insects are hurting down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

Why insects are getting extinct?
More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds, and reptiles. 
The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.
The planet is at the start of sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times.

The insect population is getting collapse, which indicates the global crises. The researchers set out their conclusion in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The insect trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting on like forms on earth.
The 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is “shocking”, it is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years we will have now.”

The main cause of mass extinction of insects


According to the journal biological conservation, intensive agriculture is the main cause of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanization and climate change are also a significant factor.

Parasites and diseases play an important role: for instance, the spread of the carroa mite is contributing to the decline of honeybees, though honeybees themselves are an introduced species in many parts of the world.


Due to climate change insects in tropical regions may have a narrow tolerance for temperature, and may already suffering declines as a result of global heating.

One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptile’s amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 36 years.

Most beautiful and delicate butterflies and moths are among the worst hit. The number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58% on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2009. The UK has suffered the biggest recorded insect falls overall.


There are more than 350,000 species of beetle and many are thought to have declined especially dung beetles.



A world without insects?

If living creatures were organized in a pyramid insect would largely make up the base. With an estimated seven million different species, antipodes outweigh humans by about 17 times, although 80% of those are likely still undiscovered.

Insects are everywhere. They are, by far, the most common animal on earth. More than1.5 million species of insects have been named. This is three times the number of all other animals combined. Even so, some say that the insects that have been given names are only a small fraction of the insects in nature.

Insects can be found in almost every conceivable habitat. Their size, shape, color, biology, and life history are so diverse, without insect, human lives would be different. Insect pollinates many of fruits, flower, and vegetable, we would not have much of the produce that we enjoy and rely on the pollinating services of insects.

Insects are very important as primary or secondary decomposers. Without insects to help break down and dispose of wastes, dead animals and plants would accumulate in our environment and it would be messy indeed.




Insects are underappreciated for their role in the food web. They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. 

Insects themselves harvested and eaten by people in some cultures. They are a rich source of protein, vitamin, and minerals, and are prized as delicacies in many third-world countries. In fact, it is difficult to find an insect that not eaten in one form or another by people. Among the most popular are cicadas, locusts, mantises, grubs, caterpillars, crickets, ants and wasps.




Benefits of insects to humans

Pollination. The value of pollination of plants by insects is nearly incalculable. Honeybees are clearly among the most important of pollinators, and their efforts result in an estimated 80 percent of all pollination in the United States. Pollination by Honeybees in the U.S. favorably affects some $20 billion dollars in crops per year, including fruits, vegetables, and many nuts.
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Foods. Honey is certainly high on the list of products made by insects that may be consumed by humans. Some insects are eaten as novelties in the United States, but some other societies use beetle grubs and other insects commonly as food.

Silk. The recognition of silk as a valuable product dates back to China, arguably in the year 2640 B.C. Presently, China annually produces some 30,000 tons of raw silk, which accounts for 80 percent of the world's supply. Most silk is produced from the cocoons of the Silkworm, Bombyx mori.


Natural and biological control. The balance of nature depends on the activities of parasites and predators, the majority of which are species of insects. Researchers use this concept in biological control and have been dramatically successful in many programs.


Conclusion
Insects are the backbone of a healthy ecosystem and the consequences of their absence will be global. Is there anything we can do other than despair?

Insects will need stepping stones to move around the country as climate change.




How can we save insects?
If you have a garden, make it part of the solution. Insects need food and we have destroyed 97% of our wildflower meadows. The charity bug life has a great guide that shows which plants help which insects: winter flowers such as hellebore, Erica and mahonia for pollinators such as bees; evergreen shrubs and climbers for bugs such as woodlice and spiders.

Insects need water- make sure you have some in your garden. Watching bees drink at the birdbath is fun; better still is watching dragonflies emerge from your wildlife pond.



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