By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent 11 February 2019
A scientific review of insect numbers suggests that 40% of species are undergoing “dramatic rates of decline” around the world.
[Urgent scientific report: listen to BBC Newshour report, 11 February 2019:]
The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles.
But researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom.
The general insect decline is being caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides and climate change.
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Insects make up the majority of creatures that live on land, and provide key benefits to many other species, including humans.
They provide food for birds, bats and small mammals; they pollinate around 75% of the crops in the world; they replenish soils and keep pest numbers in check.
Many other studies in recent years have shown that individual species of insects, such as bees, have suffered huge declines, particularly in developed economies.
Published in the journal Biological Conservation, it reviews 73 existing studies from around the world published over the past13 years.
The researchers found that declines in almost all regions may lead to the extinction of 40% of insects over the next few decades. One-third of insect species are classed as Endangered.