Insect Population and Diversity Decline
Akito Kawahara is an associate curator at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, part of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Although Kawahara’s research is mainly focused on explaining the evolution of moths and butterflies, he has found the dwindling numbers of insects and their diversity very alarming. Although researchers differ in their opinions about the severity of the issue most agree that there is a downward trend. One study estimated that 40% of known species of insects are facing extinction.
The Immense Benefits Insects Provide
Kawahara believes that the first step towards insect species preservation is to increase people’s appreciation and understanding of them. Insects are commonly thought of as dangerous, unclean, destroyers of crops, and carriers of diseases. However, most species are perfectly harmless to humans and are extremely beneficial to the environment. Through free services they provide, such as the pollination of flowering plants and waste disposal, they contribute an estimated 70 million dollars to the economy yearly.
What Everyone Can Do to Help
The solution to the steep decline in insect populations has to come from the efforts of every individual combined. Kawahara suggests several ways in which humans could help the cause. Leaving 10% of each lawn unmowed or cultivating native plants in one’s yard would create more habitats for insects. Using fewer lights at night will keep insects from flying around them until exhaustion and also lower one’s utility bills. He also recommends switching to insect-friendly soaps and sealants. Most importantly, the people’s mindset surrounding insects needs to evolve and change in order for the beneficial species to thrive once again.