Where have all the insects gone?

Collage of different insects.

(National Geographic) If humans were to suddenly disappear, biologist Edward O. Wilson has famously observed, the Earth would “regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago.” But “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” Without insects to pollinate them, most flowering plants, from daisies to dogwoods, would die out. It is, therefore, shocking—and alarming—that in most places scientists have looked recently, they’ve found that insect numbers are falling.

Researchers develop advanced cloning techniques to replenish threatened plants

Image of Hill's Thistle with bee on it.

(University of Guelph) Researchers used advanced cloning techniques to give the threatened Hill’s thistle a fighting chance at population recovery. A lack of suitable habitat due to the encroachment of trees and shrubs, as well as cottage development and quarrying activity in its natural habitat, have contributed to the decline. The Hill’s thistle grows in scarce Great Lakes areas known as open alvar grasslands. In Canada, the flowering plant is known to support the life cycles of rare bees and other pollinators.

Lawsuit attacks Trump administration failure to protect hundreds of species from extinction

Image of western bumble bee.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Center for Biological Diversity has sued the Trump administration for failing to decide whether 241 plants and animals across the country should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Among the species covered by the lawsuit is the western bumble bee, whose population has declined 84 percent over the past two decades.

More scientists warn about worldwide insect decline

Image of red and black moth.

(University of Helsinki) Humanity is pushing many ecosystems beyond recovery. As a consequence, unquantified and unquantifiable insect extinctions are happening every day. Two scientific papers by 30 experts from around the world discuss both the perils and ways to avoid further extinctions, intending to contribute towards a necessary change of attitude for humanity’s own sake.

Bumble bee declines points to mass extinction

Image of bumble bee on orange flower.

(The Guardian) A study suggests the likelihood of a bumble bee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30 percent in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction”. The team used data collected over a 115-year period on 66 bumble bee species across North America and Europe to develop a model simulating “climate chaos” scenarios. They were able to see how bumble bee populations had changed over the years by comparing where the insects were now to where they used to be.