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Insect Populations Are Down by 49% Due to Climate Change

Wildlife is impacted by climate change—and that includes insect populations. A new study shows some insect biodiversity is decreasing.

Written by
Angelica Pizza

Global warming and climate change aren't just impacting our climate systems—they're impacting humans and wildlife alike. And that includes creatures like bees and insects. As some bee species face endangerment, other insect populations are also suffering.

According to a recent study published in Nature, climate change and intensive agriculture are causing a decrease in some insect populations by up to 49% in some areas. This decline is particularly prominent in tropical areas—aka areas with high temperatures and increased habitat loss.

However, in farmlands located near preserved, natural habitats, the loss of insect populations was less intense—despite the influence of global warming. On this low end, some areas with increased temperatures or increased use of pesticides are seeing a 27% decrease in insect populations.

The study analyzed data for almost 20,000 insect species, including beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, bees, and more. And these insects were located in over 6,000 places across the globe.

And the conclusion? Insect biodiversity can only thrive if the world mitigates climate change and preserves natural habitats to reduce intense agricultural practices.

Why Insect Populations Are Decreasing

Unfortunately, the recent findings are in alignment with previous studies that found similar results. A 2019 study found that more than 40% of insect species are "threatened with extinction"—and we may be seeing biodiversity decreases over the next decade.

A world without insect bites or pests may seem ideal for some people; however, a decrease in insect biodiversity impacts other aspects of nature. It can lead to disruptions in the food chain, increased biodiversity loss across plant and animal species, habitat loss, and more.

Most insects are pollinators: Over 4,000 bee species, 750 butterfly species, and thousands of wasp, fly, and beetle species are pollinators for about 75% of flowering plant species in the U.S. And this loss in biodiversity can directly impact our food supply—not just that of wildlife.

Bees specifically pollinate produce like melons, apples, broccoli, and more. A loss of bee species and other insect species could lead to produce shortages in our grocery stores.

What You Can Do

Despite the decline in insect populations occurring globally, there are still ways you can help. First and foremost, you can do your part in living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. That way, you can decrease your individual carbon footprint—and help mitigate the speed at which global warming and climate change are occurring.

If you see an insect trapped in your home, don't swat it with a shoe. Instead, safely trap it in a cup or jar and set it free outside. You can also check out our guide about how to save bees and our list of pollinator-friendly flowers for bees you can grow in your garden.