Why insect populations are plummeting—and why it matters
A new study suggests that 40 percent of insect species are in decline, a sobering finding that has jarred researchers worldwide.
Rocky Mountain locusts once gathered in such large numbers that they blotted out the sun over the Great Plains, rivaling the famous bison herds in size and appetite. In the summer of 1875, for example, a swarm of around 10 billion locusts took nearly a week to pass through Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
But in the following decades, ranchers and homesteaders developed special areas of the prairie where they bred. Only 27 years later, the last living specimens were collected on the Canadian prairie. They went extinct shortly thereafter, dealing a blow to the ecosystem, as they provided food for countless insectivores.
New research shows that large-scale declines in insects, while perhaps less dramatic, are by no means a thing of the past—and