The Swiss Academy of Sciences estimates that around 60% of the 1,143 insects studied in Switzerland are threatened with extinction.
Another long term study in Germany shows that insect biomass, or combined weight, has declined by 76% over the last 30 years.
According to the Swiss Academy of Sciences, the main drivers of insect loss are intensive soil use, an explosion in the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers, and the disappearance of insect habitats such as hedges and swamps. Even light pollution from the expansion of cities and towns is taking a toll.
The Academy warns of dramatic consequences. The loss of pollinating insects could eventually affect food production – more than 75% of useful plants rely to some extent on pollinating insects. Insects also control parasites.
Other parts of the ecosystem are already starting to collapse. The number of insect-eating birds in agricultural areas has declined by 60% since 1990.
Aquatic insects are also threatened and along with them the fish that feed on them.
Academy researchers recommend a focus on reducing the key drivers of the damage without delay.