Entomologists have united to take stock of growing warnings about an “insect apocalypse” in a special feature published in the journal PNAS.
These teeny little critters, some of which have been around for about 475 million years, provide vital ecosystem services yet have received relatively little attention compared to other animals as the Earth faces a sixth mass extinction.
And while awareness is rising, the emerging picture is far more nuanced than initial reports suggested, according to David Wagner from the University of Connecticut, US, and his co-authors in the feature’s introductory overview.
The feature arose from a perceived need to provide a critical evaluation of the research and understand these complexities to help address the issue – which it confirms is serious.
“Nature is under siege,” Wagner and his colleagues warn, noting that millions of acres of tropical forest – home to around half the world’s insects – are cleared every year, a predicament compounded by insecticides, herbicides, human-caused climate change and light and sound pollution.