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The reason fewer bugs hit your windshield

Up to 70% of the butterflies in Spain are seeing their population numbers drop while in countries like Germany many species are in danger of extinction.

Mariposa Monarca santuario

In a period of time that ranges between 25 and 30 years, there has been a sharp decline in the number of flying insects in Spain and in the rest of European countries. This is the main conclusion reached by the research carried out by the Catalan Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.

The research led by the biologist Constantí Stefanescu, and included in El Confidencial, has shown the reasons why this pronounced loss of flying insects in our ecosystem has occurred. “In the last 30 years we have been able to verify that 70% of the butterfly species in Catalonia are declining. The state in which the butterflies are found is an indicator of the general state of the insects”, said Stefanescu.

Different factors have contributed to this situation that largely condition the habitats of these insects. The Butterfly Monitoring Scheme of the Government of Catalonia pointed to global warming, with the consequent drought in the Mediterranean region, and also to the changes that butterfly habitats suffer, such as increased urbanization and development of intensive agriculture.

On the other hand, the entomologist Sónia Ferreira, from the Center for Research in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources of the University of Porto, explained to the aforementioned media that it is “a race against the clock” that could mark the future of the world as we know it. “Without insects, the entire food chain of the planet is at stake”. However, Spain would not be the only country experiencing an downside in the drop in insect populations.

In Germany, for example, in less than 30 years the loss of insect biomass has reached 75%, while in summer this percentage rose to 82%, according to a study carried out by the Krefeld Entomological Society in Germany. “Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species in the coming decades,” highlighted this research conducted in 2017.

Insects, essential for the ecosystem

As reported by the Aquae Foundation, a massive disappearance of insects would cause multiple changes in the food chain. “If all insects disappeared, [reptiles, birds and amphibians] would be doomed to disappear, since their food supply would disappear. In that sense, it would be inevitable that this disruption would reach humans.”

Pollination is very important for the environment and ecosystems, the so-called “ecosystem services” that allow the maintenance of the quality of the air we breathe and of a suitable climate, Greenpeace highlighted.