Insects could be wiped out within a century - scientists

Insects ranging from butterflies and bees to dung beetles were among the most affected

The sobering message has emerged from a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports on insect population declines which found the rate of extinction is eight times faster than vertebrates such as mammals, birds and reptiles.

Insects could become extinct within 100 years, threatening the collapse of nature itself.

Butterflies and moths are among the worst affected, along with bees and dung beetles.

"So we still need the bees and the other insects to come along and pollinate them".

It added dwindling insect populations were further evidence of a sixth mass extinction under way among animal and plant species worldwide.

Review author Francisco Sanchez-Bayo told The Guardian that if insect species loss can not be halted, it will also have catastrophic consequences for the survival of mankind. "If insect species losses can not be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind".

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Added CNN: 'Some 80% of wild plants use insects for pollination while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study. "If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death", Sánchez-Bayo said.

The warning was issued in a global review of insect declines, in which the authors called for a dramatic rethinking of agricultural practices and better strategies for cleaning polluted waters.

"Thirdly, we have biological factors, such as invasive species and pathogens; and fourthly, we have climate change, particularly in tropical areas where it is known to have a big impact".

Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades. This could have a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet.

Agriculture was the "main culprit" in 40pc of the studies, with researchers highlighting "the way we apply pesticides".

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