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45. Are we really facing “insectageddon”? (Jane Hill)

June 2024


Insects are among the most abundant organisms on Earth. About 350,000 beetle species, alone, have been described by science and this is considered to be only a fraction of their total number. In a variety of ways, insects are a fundamental part of natural and human-adapted systems. While some cause disease or ruin crops, others play a key role in ecosystem service provision, for example by pollinating certain crops or as food for other beneficial animals and people. Overall, the loss of insect species is a major concern. Some of the more exuberant headlines broadcasting this message have gone so far as to declare an imminent “insectageddon”. However, although many insect species are declining or in danger of decline, there is reason to be wary of such excessive claims. Data need to be carefully considered, revealing the complex patterns of change. Unfortunately the media, in particular, is often incentivized to focus on the more extreme findings and neglect the nuances.

Jane Hill (OBE) is president of the Royal Entomological Society and a professor at the University of York. She helps me to pick apart the "insectageddon" idea, including how valid it is and how it came about in the first place.

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