Generally unloved and disregarded, insects are in fact the most successful group of animals on Earth and have been for more than 400 million years. With a million described species (and a lot more still out there to find) and numbers measured in the quintillions, insects underpin almost all terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. As Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson pointed out; “these are the little animals that run the world”.
Without insects, our lives would be vastly different. Insects pollinate many of our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. We would not have much of the produce that we enjoy and rely on without the pollinating services of insects, not to mention honey, beeswax, silk, and other useful products that insects provide.
But in the last few decades, populations all over the world have collapsed with terrifying speed. The declines are so severe that we stand on the brink of total ecosystem collapse. These crucial organisms are facing what some prominent scientists have recently started calling the “insect apocalypse”.
Flying insect numbers have plunged by 60% in less than 20 years and declining by 1-2% a year (due to a range of stressors, including insecticides, herbicides and climate change). Without insects there will be no birds, reptiles, and amphibians – and due to their pollinating services mass famine for humans (Go Green).