Insect apocalypse: German bug watchers sound alarm reports that one of the worst extinctions is happening on Earth right now.
For almost 30 years they passed as quirky eccentrics, diligently setting up their insect traps in the Rhine countryside to collect tens of millions of bugs and creepy crawlers.
Now the group of German entomology enthusiasts can boast a world-class scientific treasure: evidence of what is described as one of Earth’s worst extinction phases since the dinosaurs vanished.
Insects, which comprise two thirds of all terrestrial species, have been dying off at alarming rates, with disastrous impacts on food chains and habitats, researchers say.
Entomologys and an army of volunteers have over the years gathered as many as 80 million insects that are now floating in countless ethanol bottles.
In the test period, the total biomass of flying insects here has plummeted by 76 percent.
Quaint Sunday hobby
To demonstrate the rapid decline, a lab technician holds up two bottles: one from 1994 contains 1,400 grammes of trapped insects, the newest one just 300 grammes.
Dutch professor Hans de Kroon uses the German group’s data to back up his hypothesis on why the region’s bird population is in decline
He hypothesised that the birds suffered from a shortage of food, especially insects, but had no data to prove it.
The Krefeld research played a central role in a meta-study published by Francisco Sanchez-Bayo and Kris Wyckhuys from the Australian universities of Sydney and Queensland.
Martin Sorg, head of the volunteer-run Entomology Society Krefeld says: “in western Europe our nature is getting smaller, the agriculture fields are very hostile to insects
In February, they published the first synthesis of 73 studies on entomological fauna around the world over the past 40 years, listing places from Costa Rica to southern France.
They calculated that over 40 percent of insect species are threatened with exit.
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