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Insects are disappearing. Why should we care? What can be done?

Insects are disappearing. Remember how in the ’90s when you went for a drive down a country lane on a summer evening, you’d end up with hundreds of splatters on the windscreen? No more does that happen. Your car is no longer like a 1 ton moth collecting sheet. That’s not to draw a parallel between vehicles and insect roadkill, although hold that thought.

We are seeing fewer insects in everyday life, whether you realise it or not. Studies suggest insect numbers have declined by around 50%.

Electrotettix attenboroughi Heads & ThomasA pygmy locust preserved in amber, named after Sir David Attenborough Photo: Electrotettix attenboroughi Heads & Thomas. Sam W. Heads. CC BY 4.0.A world ever more incompatible with life for those on six legs

When we talk of modern wildlife science some may think of wonderful discoveries, à la Sir David Attenborough and a community of scientists and researchers around the world. These advances should not be discredited. Since the 1970s we have also got better at monitoring our wildlife, and subsequently observed the scale of the problem we’re facing.

The modern world has become ever more incompatible with life for those on six legs.

Insects are by far the largest group of hexapod invertebrates. Insects include ants, bees, and flies. Of the planet’s creatures, it’s reckoned 90% of species belong to the class Insecta.

“The current state of our wildflide in this country, and globally, is approximately catastrophic. We are losing biodiversity at a rate that is of geological proportions.” David MacDonald, of the University of Oxford, refers to the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event – the Anthropocene epoch.

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