Insect decline prompts new 'eco church' plea

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"This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought", Hallmann said in a statement.

Hans de Kroon, project leader at Radboud University, said: "The fact that flying insects are decreasing at..."

Researchers have been tracking insect abundance in German nature preserves for 27 years using Malaise traps, mesh tents that trap insects inside and lead them toward collection bottles of alcohol.

A fresh call by the Christian conservation charity for more to consider joining their "eco churches" initiative was prompted after a new study concluded flying insect populations have been "decimated" in Germany. "Yet, this dramatic decline has occurred", Hallmann said in a statement.

"The decline in insect biomass, being evident throughout the growing season, and irrespective of habitat type or landscape configuration, suggests large-scale factors must be involved".

Conservation director, Andy Lester told Premier: "It is serious; many places are reporting insect losses of over 70 per cent in the last 20 years. They're even crucial in waste control - most of the waste in urban areas is taken care of by ants and cockroaches". It showed that flying insects in the study sites have declined an average 76 percent over the survey period, with a high of 82 percent in the summer months.

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Latty says it's particularly worrying that the study recorded the declines in protected areas, meaning that for agricultural or urban areas the trend could be even more pronounced.

While noting they had not "exhaustively analyzed the climatic variables" that may have impacted populations, such as "prolonged droughts, or lack of sunshine especially in low temperatures", they also suggested "agricultural intensification (e.g. pesticide usage, year-round tillage, increased use of fertilizers and frequency of agronomic measures) that we could not incorporate in our analyses, may form a plausible cause".

"These surrounding areas inflict flying insects and they can not survive there", said Caspar Hallmann, researcher at Radboud.

An estimated 80 percent of wild plants species are pollinated by insects, and more than half of birds rely on insects as a food sources, according to the study.

Germany is losing its flying insects - and that could be bad news for the entire planet.