How to help stop insectageddon

People should mow their lawns less often, avoid using pesticides in their gardens and not remove old trees, stumps and dead leaves in a bid to stop mass extinction of insect species.

Other measures include growing native plants, building bug hotels and making sure not to release alien plants and animals that could harm local species.

The advice comes from a team of international researchers investigating dramatic declines in insects worldwide.

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Bugs, bees and butterflies are a key part of life on earth, performing crucial natural services such as pollination of many plants - including key food crops.

Insect populations are declining across the world due to human activities and climate change, but there are things we can all do to boost their survival chances

But populations of many species across the globe have been suffering major declines, with a number already wiped out and fears raised that the planet could be facing “insectageddon”.

A number of factors have been blamed for the trend, including the expansion and intensification of modern farming practices, pollution and the effects of climate change.

Now 30 researchers from the UK and overseas have drawn up a nine-point plan of actions ordinary people can take to help make their environment more bug-friendly

University of Huddersfield lecturer Dr Matt Hill, a specialist in aquatic ecosystems, was part of the team.

He warned that insects such as beetles, dragonflies and mayflies as well as creatures such as snails are in long-term decline in the UK and across the world, which could have a major impact on the environment.

He highlighted the important functions insects have in the ecosystem that cannot be replicated by technology or any other innovation.

For example, many human food crops depend on pollination to survive, while decomposition of dead bugs contributes to nutrient cycling.

He said: “They provide food for other animals and they can also have a significant role in the functioning of freshwater ecosystems, forming a critical component in the diversity of life.”

Dr Hill worked with scientists in countries including Germany, Columbia, Finland and South Africa, pooling their research and collaborating on two new articles.

Scientists' warning to humanity on insect extinction and Solutions for humanity on how to conserve insects have been published in the journal Biological Conservation.

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