In Germany, flying insects have declined by 76% in 26 years. In the UK, common butterfly populations have fallen by 46% since 1976. We should be alarmed by this insect apocalypse
Insects have been around for more than 400m years, their ancestors crawling from the oceans to colonise the land long before dinosaurs appeared. They have been enormously successful, evolving into a staggering diversity of more than 1m known species, with perhaps as many as another 4m yet to be described by science. There are more than 300,000 different types of beetle alone. I have been obsessed by insects for all of my life; they are amazing, are often beautiful, and lead fascinating, peculiar lives.
What’s more, the world would not function without these tiny creatures: they pollinate our plants; control pests; recycle all sorts of organic material from dung to corpses, tree trunks and leaves; keep the soil healthy; disperse seeds, and much more. They are a vital source of food for many larger creatures such as birds, bats, lizards, amphibians and fish.