The world could be on the brink of a mass insect extinction

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Although you may sometimes find them a little scary or irritating, insects are some of the most important animals on the planet. They keep our soils healthy and pollinate our crops, helping to provide food for millions of humans and other species.

But a large number of insects could soon be threatened with extinction. Thanks to climate change and the loss of habitats (two closely related things), the number and species of insects are in major decline.

A recent report from UCL’s Center for Biodiversity and Environment Research assessed hundreds of thousands of insect samples from around 6,000 sites around the world – and its findings are quite worrying. Areas of so-called ‘climate-stressed’ farmland were found to have only half as many insects as their natural, non-climate-stressed counterparts.

The study suggests that intensive agriculture and climate change combine to destroy habitats and reduce both the overall number of insects and the number of species. The decline is greatest in tropical countries – where the majority of the world’s insect species also live. Insects in Indonesia and Brazil, two of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, are highlighted as being most at risk.

So what can we do? Well, the document suggests farming methods that use fewer chemicals and have more crop diversity. It also recommends more actively preserving natural habitats. As a consumer, you could participate in local conservation projects and also buy products that claim to be eco-friendly.

You can read the full UCL report for yourself here.

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