Scientists Warn of 'Sixth Mass Extinction' as Insects Face Annihilation

Scientists Warn of 'Sixth Mass Extinction' as Insects Face Annihilation

Earth is experiencing dramatic declines in the numbers of insects which make up more than half of the world's species and are disappearing faster than other species, as two studies have warned of a "catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems" and a "sixth mass extinction".

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, 40% of species could die out amid an annual decline of 2.5%, blaming the agricultural industry (destruction of habitat and the widespread use of pesticides), disease and climate change.

Scientists regard insects as key to the world's natural systems and wildlife chains as they provide a food source to other animals, and they represent an essential factor for plants pollination and nutrients recycling.

According to another study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found butterflies, bees and dung beetles are the species mostly affected by the ongoing decline.

"The conclusion is clear: unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades," the study's authors, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo and Kris Wyckhuys, said.

"The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least, as insects are at the structural and functional base of many of the world's ecosystems since their rise at the end of the Devonian period, almost 400 million years ago."