Various factors affect the life of insects. The human being is the worst of them. | Image: Nathan Dumlao
In this article, headed by a less disturbing title, we are going to analyze some data on the worrying decline in the insect population. Scientists from different areas of the natural sciences assure that this decrease is not mere speculation .
Considering a world where insects have become extinct glimpses a totally tragic image, since without insects, ecosystems would collapse in a short time and the Earth itself, as we know it today, would be doomed to its end.
Speculation on the extinction of insects
Anyone who is asked about a possible decline in the insect population will answer with resounding statements about its decline. From the residents of large cities, to the inhabitants of rural areas and farms , they have the feeling that in recent decades, the number of insects has decreased significantly.
But we are not just talking about ordinary people, who have nothing to do with the study of anthropoids, but about true specialists, such as the professor of Zoology at the University of Murcia, Juan Jose Presa, whom we will talk about later.
There is also colloquial talk of the “windshield phenomenon”. This phenomenon describes the time drivers spend cleaning insects from their windows.. The director of the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity talks about this phenomenon in the journal Science.
Real threat to anthropods
Returning to the researcher Juan Jose Presa; he not only alerts us to a drastic decrease in the insect population, but also provides data in this regard. At the beginning of 2017, it published a study that emerged thanks to the collaboration between the European Union and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), showing that around 30% of orthoptera species (grasshoppers, lobsters, crickets, etc) are threatened and a high amount in danger of extinction.
In another article in the journal Science, the situation studied in recent years in Germany, at the Krefeld Entomological Society, where insects have decreased by an incredible 80% since 1989 , has been described . To find this data, they have been based on comparing the amount of insects that are captured by different methods in various periods of time.
To put more specific data, in Spain, three quarters of the different species of butterflies are decreasingrapidly its population. This is confirmed by the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications of Catalonia and the Museum of Natural Sciences of Granollers, in the same province. These data are the fruit of two decades of work. This research was based on the results of 66 of the 200 species present in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia.
Although carrying out studies in this area is difficult, due to the technical complexity involved, the sources that point in the same direction are abundant. From the Institute of Evolutionary Biology they warn about the threat suffered by cobblers and dragonflies. Alert that began to launch a decade ago .
Causes of disappearance
Determining which factors contribute to the disappearance of insects is too complex due to the multiplicity of interrelated variables that exist. In any case, some factors are well known:
The excessive urbanization, which limits the land and invades the natural habitats of insects, agriculture based on the use of chemical compounds that eradicate entire populations of anthropoids, the increase in the human population and tourism , with all that this entails, the alteration of the synchrony between the hatching of insects and the flowering of plants, etc.
Other well-known factors such as: Climate change, droughts, and the extinction of other animal speciesand plants, join unstoppably to eradicate the world population of insects.
Is there any remedy?
It is often said that everything has a solution. Regardless of whether this is true or not, what is true is that for a solution to take effect it must be applied in an ideal way, and this does not seem to be the case.
The big problem we are facing is similar to that of global warming. The measures we can take are too slow to stop the decline , or even slow it down significantly.
But, from the outset, the information available is very scarce. We know that the decrease in the population of insects of different species is real. But to what extent
To give an example, the national catalog of threatened species in Spain includes 90 species of invertebrates. Of this amount, 35 are insects. Completely discrepant data compared to the 38,311 species estimated by the Virtual Community of Entomology (Spain). Therefore, how to fight against such an unknown threat
? How does it affect other species?
It is difficult to determine which is the cause and which is the effect, but anyway it is not even necessary. The reality is that other species of animals are affected by this decrease in the number of insects.
From the birds to the frogs that we could find in urban areas have decreased. This is confirmed by the Spanish Society of Ornithology. Said Society has confirmed that the decrease in the population of different birds is a worrying fact; And we are not talking about exotic species that were already in danger of extinction, but about common species such as swallows, turtle doves, sparrows and partridges .
Because it is logical to think that if the food of a species decreases, the species also does. Especially when other threats are added such as fires and droughts, which not only destroy entire groups of these animals, but also lizards and amphibians , their main prey.
To conclude, comment on the results of the great meta-analysis, which brought together 539 scientific studies, carried out by the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Barcelona. This great investigation concluded that 65% of the species analyzed (a total of 313), are suffering a significant decrease in their population due to climate change.