Exterminate All Insects?

By Daniel Brouse

Are pesticides exterminating all the insects?

Recent studies show a decline of 80% across all species of insects. There could many causes contributing to the rapid decline including changes in land use and global warming; however, the biggest concern is pesticides.

Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. In the 1980’s Shell and in the 1990’s Bayer, started work on their development. Imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in the world. In the late 90’s neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impact. Neonicotinoid use was linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to a reduction in insect populations, according to Wikipedia.

From the Science article Where have all the insects gone?
12 May 2017
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6338/576.full

Entomologists call it the windshield phenomenon. “If you talk to people, they have a gut feeling. They remember how insects used to smash on your windscreen,” says Wolfgang Wägele, director of the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity in Bonn, Germany. Today, drivers spend less time scraping and scrubbing. “I’m a very data-driven person,” says Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Oregon. “But it is a visceral reaction when you realize you don’t see that mess anymore.”

Neonicotinoid pesticides, already implicated in the widespread crash of bee populations, are a prime suspect.

Paying attention to what E. O. Wilson calls “the little things that run the world” is worthwhile, Sorg says. “We won’t exterminate all insects. That’s nonsense. Vertebrates would die out first. But we can cause massive damage to biodiversity—damage that harms us.”

Name Company Products Turnover in million US$ (2009)
Imidacloprid Bayer CropScience Confidor, Admire, Gaucho, Advocate 1,091
Thiamethoxam Syngenta Actara, Platinum, Cruiser 627
Clothianidin Sumitomo Chemical/Bayer CropScience Poncho, Dantosu, Dantop, Belay 439
Acetamiprid Nippon Soda Mospilan, Assail, ChipcoTristar 276
Thiacloprid Bayer CropScience Calypso 112
Dinotefuran Mitsui Chemicals Starkle, Safari, Venom 79
Nitenpyram Sumitomo Chemical Capstar, Guardian 8

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