Germany’s Declining Flying Insect Population

Entomologists in Germany reported a dramatic loss of flying insect biomass in less than three decades, spelling serious consequences for the rest of the ecosystem.

Photo by Getty Images/Mariusz Brainard

Flying insect mass in Germany fell by 76 percent in less than three decades, according to entomologists who, in 2016, concluded a 27-year-long study on insect biomass. Midsummer losses were even more significant, at 82 percent. The researchers’ results were culled from samples pulled from 63 nature-protection areas across the country, and were published in PLOS ONE in October 2017, after which headlines titled the decline “Insect Armageddon,” and scientists warned of global implications. Many insects undertake tasks that are crucial to the health of their ecosystems, such as decomposition and pollination, and fewer insects means less food for every link in the food chain that follows.

The researchers discovered that their results were consistent across habitats, regardless of weather, land use, and habitat characteristics. Agricultural intensification, including the use of pesticides, could contribute to the issue, but the researchers weren’t able to incorporate that data into their analyses. They say they were especially alarmed by the unexplained decline because their samples were taken from areas that were meant to preserve diversity. The loss of diversity indicated by this study will have a cascading negative impact on food webs and ecosystems, the researchers report, and they urge further study of the causes, extent, and ramifications of this decline.

Since the publication of the PLOS ONE study, which you can find by searching for “flying insect biomass” on PLOS, other studies have confirmed dramatic drops in various insect populations. A report in the October 2018 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes considerable climate-driven insect declines in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest, leading to subsequent declines in lizards, frogs, and birds.

In the face of limited long-term data, these studies add weight to anecdotal evidence about vanishing insects, but more research is needed to track and understand the significance of global insect declines.
12/23/2019 5:18:41 PM

I see this on my own 3.5 acres in Mena, Arkansas, USA. Have also noted a serious decline in the number and species of wild birds. Last year had 5 bird feeders out, had to fill them twice a day. This year, only 2 feeders out, only have to fill once a week. Squirrels, raccoons, and possums also missing. I blame it on many things, but number one, the spraying of pesticides. Everything is interconnected in this world, and we shall soon see disastrous results of our egotistical ignorance.



Learn from Home!

Survival Skills, Garden Planning, Seed Saving, Food Preservation, Natural Health – Dozens of courses, 100+ workshops, and interactive Q&As.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters