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🐜 “So, is the Insect Apocalypse really here?”, “And, isn’t that a good thing?”

Since we, as insect activists, get asked these questions pretty often, we thought it might be useful to share some answers based on our own research.

👉 Is the Insect Apocalypse here?

In summary, “not yet”. (And yes, this is good – we’ll tell you why shortly). Most scientists agree though that we are facing the planet’s sixth mass extinction event – a collapse of biodiversity that threatens life as we know it.

Insects, representing the largest class of animals on the planet (over 1 million species documented), have probably seen the greatest losses over the past 100 years. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be certain due to a lack of consistent tracking and measurement over time.

👉 But, isn’t insect decline a good thing?

No! As Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson puts it, “Insects are nature’s little cogs that make the world go round”.

Insects form the foundation of successful natural ecosystems. They are the pollinators, waste recyclers, seed dispersers, population controllers and food sources that support the well-being of many other species.

Some quick stats for consideration:

- 87% of plant species require animal pollination, most of which is done by insects

- Pollination as a service is valued at between $235 and $577 billion per year worldwide

- 96% of North American terrestrial birds rear their young on insects

- Populations of birds that feed mainly on insects have decreased on average by 13% between 1990 and 2015 in the European Union

These numbers have led scientists and the media to predict an 'insect apocalypse'.

✨ Luckily, there’s still hope

Unlike previous extinction events caused by natural phenomena, this one is driven by human activity, which means humans can reverse this trend.

Insects recover quickly because they reproduce quickly. And as we’ve briefly described above, their recovery supports a whole host of other organisms and processes. So every positive action creates visible results fast – if you’re watching that is.

😊 As an individual, small actions make a big difference

- Make space for insects in your garden or balcony

- Grow indigenous flowering plants

- Leave some dead wood and a patch of autumn leaves over winter

- Stop using insecticides

- Cut back on unsustainable foods, particularly beef and dairy products

- Choose organic and responsibly sourced products

- Don’t support businesses that follow harmful practices

- Put pressure on your local government to adopt laws that support biodiversity

- Convince your family and friends to act as well

🏢 As a business, know your impact

With new legislation coming into place in mid-2023, it’s important to consider now what actions you can take to report on and support biodiversity as part of your #ESG strategy and in your daily operations. Fully understanding your current environmental impact is a good place to start.

We have more on the topic of sustainability reporting to come soon.

In the meantime here's a list of sources (and recommended reading):

🦋 Silent Earth – Dave Goulson’s spellbinding but sobering treatise on saving the insects:

🐝 Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts:

🐼 WWF – What is the sixth mass extinction and what can we do about it?:

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