Catastrophic threat to world's ecosystems as farm pesticides 'driving insect extinction'
Pesticide use is driving an "alarming" decline in the world's insects that could have a "catastrophic" impact on nature's ecosystems.
More than 40pc of insect species are at risk of extinction within decades, with climate change and pollution also to blame, according to a global scientific review.
Their numbers are plummeting so precipitously almost all insects could vanish within a century, the study found.
An overhaul of the agricultural industry is "urgently needed" to "allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide," wrote co-authors from Sydney and Queensland universities.
The biologists conducted a systematic review of 73 historic reports of insect declines across the world.
Ten per cent of known species are already extinct, compared to 1pc of vertebrates, they found. Of the insects that remain, 41pc are in decline.
Over the past 30 years, the total mass of all insects dropped an average of 2.5pc annually. The "dramatic" fall suggests none will be left in 100 years, warned Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, of the University of Sydney's School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
"The rate of decline is really huge," he told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme.