Insects are part of the foundation of our ecosystem. They help the food chain, and are also responsible for the decaying process and plant growth. These are vital to the ecosystem. But the reality is that the number of insects is on the decline. 40% of them are said to be extinct in your lifetime. Why is this happening and what does this mean for our ecosystem? Insects may seem like a minor part of life, but without them, the world would not be the same.
Why are insect populations on the decline?
To put it simply, our actions are the cause of insect extinction. Major causes include using pesticides and insecticides, and tearing down forests and other natural habitats. Pesticides and insecticides are used to treat plants that have or are exposed to, well, pests. The problem is that there is no way to control if or when the chemical will come in contact with good, helpful insects. There are bugs who are natural “pesticides,” such as spiders, praying mantises, and ladybugs, that are most commonly affected. These bugs are trying to do their instinctive job, and some are going endangered because of it.
Deforestation is a devastating act that endangers species, causes extinction, and has great effects on the world. Deforestation is responsible for increasing the rate of endangerment and extinction up to 1,000 times the normal rate. According to American Forests, over 4,600 insects, animals, and species will be extinct by 2030.
What changes will the ecosystem face if insect populations keep going down?
Butterflies, ladybugs, and bees are amongst some of the insects that are threatened by extinction. These bugs are needed for pest control and pollinations, not to mention they are beautiful creatures. Bees pollinate up to 80% of the crops most of the world eats. 75% of the crops we eat are pollinated by butterflies. We depend on pollination 300 times more than 50 years ago. If bees and butterflies went extinct, there would be a huge impact on food growth and quality. Many of you are probably familiar with The Bee Movie. As silly as it was, one thing it got right was what a world without bee pollination would look like. We would lose the plants and flowers that bees and butterflies pollinate. Without the natural pest control butterflies and ladybugs provide, you could expect more aphids, larvae, worm, and other pests that would destroy vegetation.
What needs to change?
One big change that would greatly impact this epidemic is increasing awareness on the intrinsic value of these insects. If more people were aware of the effects that insect endangerment and extinction had on the world, it would make a big difference on the way we live. By not treating plants with insecticides and pesticides, we would not only save insects from extinction, but also save countless dollars.
Deforestation is also devastating on the environment. Not only is it a main contributor to greenhouse gases and extinguishing habitats, it is the reason for numerous extinctions of animals, insects, and species. We need to ask ourselves if what we gain is worth killing our environment and earth.
Many people are unaware of the endangerment of insects. Some people don’t care because they think it won’t affect them. Maybe it won’t happen in your life-time, but the change needs to start now. One person does make a difference. The important thing to remember is that these insects could go extinct. What we do from now on can change that.