A SCIENTIFIC report has warned global insect numbers are rapidly declining – and a worst-case scenario would be them being wiped out within a century.

The loss of so many insect species could have devastating effects for all animal groups including humans and fish populations, experts have warned.

The global study by boffins in China and Australia have recorded a 2.5 per cent annual loss over the past 25 years with a third of all insect species endangered.

Some 41 per cent of global insect species have declined over the past decade – and the highest individual species was caddisflies on 68 per cent.

The fifth worst hit insect was mayflies with a 37 per cent decline.

The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides.

Co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, from the University of Sydney, said: “If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of all other animals.

“The insect decline is very rapid. In ten years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

Anglers react to insect crisis

Conservationist and former barbel record holder Ray Walton said: “Pollution can wipe out all insect life and macro-invertebrates – food for fish, birds, amphibians, mammals – can instantly be destroyed in a river or lake.

“The knock on effect means no food supply along the whole riverine/water food chain… so everything dies in the end of starvation if they haven’t been wiped out by the pollution in the first instance.

“The pesticides and herbicides containing glyphosates that the Environment Agency, farmers, golf courses and the public use, eventually end up in the river or lakes water supply causing declines in insect populations on land and in the water habitat.

“Glyphosate is also a known Endocrine Disruptor poison chemical which can change or distort the natural sex in fish, mammals, insects etc.

“Far more action is needed from the Government but will we get it ever?” Ray concluded.

Dr Mark Everard, roach ace and fishery scientist, said: “I have seen this report and it is extremely alarming.

“Really, it mirrors the ‘chalkstream malaise’ that anglers flagged up two decades ago, and that triggered the angler (and other volunteer)-led RiverFly Partnership surveys.

“A lot of fish food is lost, including a lot that blows in from the land, and this is also an indicator of wider ecosystem decline.”

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