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Let the bugs live

I read an interesting, and worrying, article today from the Guardian:

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers.

It discussed the results of a longitudinal study surveying the biomass of flying insects in German nature reserves over the period from 1989 to 2016. Overall, the study found a 76% decline in the biomass of flying insects.

The authors of the published paper suggest that pesticide use and climate change are likely to be significant factors contributing to the loss of insects.

Some might react with gladness – the fewer annoying bugs the better. However, insects are a crucial part of the food chain and both plants and animals depend upon them to survive so rapid loss of insects over such a relatively short period is extremely concerning.

Another way to dismiss the relevance of this study to us in New Zealand would be to argue that it was performed in Europe which is considerably more developed than here and possibly more polluted. Yet we are even more dependant on agriculture than Germany so a similar decline in insect population here could have a massive impact on our economy. We also use large amounts of pesticides here too, and history shows that New Zealand’s ecosystems are sensitive to changes like this.

I have no idea if similar studies have been conducted in New Zealand, though I’m now curious to find out. The implications of a global decline in insects are huge, many of us may dislike bugs but for life on earth to continue we do need them.