What’s going on here?

Conservation zones are not providing enough protection for over three-quarters of insect species, finds a new study. As a result, 76% of bug species, from butterflies and bees to stick insects and stink bugs, are at greater risk of habitat loss.

What does this mean?

The study, published in the One Earth journal last week, stresses that while insects dominate the living world, their populations are in free fall worldwide. Huge conservation efforts will be needed to stop the collapse. Protected areas can shelter insects from habitat destruction and use of pesticides, but only if they can roam within those areas.

Coverage by protected areas varies across the world, the research also found. A bug’s life is better in the Amazonian region, Africa, Western Australia, and Eastern and Central Europe. It’s generally worse in North America and South and Southeast Asia. 

Why should we care?

Without insects, the environment would simply fall apart, the Natural History Museum has said. Bugs are crucial pollinators of crops. The report’s authors say they pollinate about 80% of plant species. They provide food for well over half of bird species, among other creatures. And they turn organic waste into soil.

“If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse,” warned Professor Dave Goulson in a 2017 report.

One recent study estimates the plunge in pollinating insects is already causing about 500,000 early deaths a year by reducing the supply of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

Be curious!

Photo by Shiebi AL on Unsplash

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