This article was originally published on Ensia.


“Butterflies and bees, ants and beetles, cockroaches and flies — whether loved or feared, insects help humans. Just sample the ways these animals enable life as we know it: they pollinate cropsgive us new medicinesbreak down waste and support entire ecosystems.

Yet many insects around the world are in decline.

Writing in the journal Biological Conservation, more than two dozen scientists from countries around the world are warning of a wave of insect extinctions — and urging swift steps to curb the crisis.

Ensuring that insects have room to thrive means setting aside local habitat, including parks, gardens, roadsides and the edges of farm fields. It also entails protecting continent-scale migratory passages like the corridor that monarch butterflies traverse from Minnesota to Mexico.

Not just any areas will do, the researchers caution. Insects need quality space, too. The closer an area is to the condition it was in before humans altered it for the worse, the better. “We need to move the needle of novel landscapes towards one of greater ecological integrity and more complex interaction networks,” Michael Samways, one of the paper’s authors and an insect conservationist at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, wrote in an email to Ensia.

…Our changing climate pushes many insects to evolve, move or die — a dynamic that often puts them up against the extensive transformation humans have wrought on Earth’s surface. Habitat fragmentation exacerbates the threat by limiting insects’ ability to traverse the landscapes separating them from more suitable surroundings.

But with quality space that’s connected by conservation corridors and other adequate habitat, the researchers write, insects can leave enough healthy offspring to sustain their species.”

Read on at: Ensia