Although most researchers are worried about insect decline, we should be wary of the hyperbole of impending doom
In recent years, many of us have come to appreciate the huge importance of insects to our natural ecosystems – from the life-enhancing beauty of butterflies to the vital role that pollinating insects play in our food supply. So it’s hardly surprising there is huge concern over the so-called “insectageddon”.
A recent study adds to an emerging narrative of severe decline and builds on the perception that there were more insects in nature in years gone by – and that things were better in the past. One often-cited memory is that car windshields used to be splattered with insects, and this latest study uses a “splat rate” to conclude that numbers of flying insects have plunged by almost 60% in Britain between 2004 and 2021. But how reliable is this conclusion, and how worried should we be?
Jane Hill is professor of ecology at the University of York and president-elect of the Royal Entomological Society