Insects are disappearing worldwide, and it's an issue that affects everyone

'Forty percent of insects worldwide are declining,' expert says

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Insects around the world and in our own backyards are disappearing.

You might not think it affects you, but Jessica Beckham, an environmental science and ecology professor from the University of Texas at San Antonio, said it's an issue that affects everyone.

A recent study published in the Journal of Biological Conservation and Beckham said it's a big chunk of the ten quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects alive on our planet.

“Forty percent of insects worldwide are declining at this point, ”Beckham said.

Beckham said studies have also shown that, because there are millions of undiscovered insect species, we are likely losing unknown species of insects every year.

“It's startling because they are the base of many of our food chains,” Beckham said. “They serve as food for many different organisms, and they also provide many different ecosystem services.”

Beckham said insects such as bees are responsible for pollinating 75 percent of our crops. She said other insects such as dung beetles decompose waste and keep other mammals alive by serving as food.

Beckham said pesticides and climate change are part of the reason for the decline, but urbanization is one of the main reasons.

“As we expand our cities, and also convert prairies and other types of landscapes like that into agricultural fields, we end up losing the habitat for those insects,” Beckham said.

One way professor Beckham said people can do their part is by having a garden where insects can thrive or even a beehive. She said if you live in an apartment, any type of flowering plant on a window ledge or patio helps.

Beckham said even though most people don’t want mosquitoes in their backyards or cockroaches in the kitchen, spraying pesticides as little as possible is ideal.

According to Beckham, and as studies show, if the society doesn't pursue some type of effort to preserve insects and the decline continues, it could have severe consequences.

“We are going to see the ecosystem collapse worldwide, and many different ecosystems will be collapsing as these insects continue to decline,” Beckham said.

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