It’s not a secret that deforestationclimate change, and habitat degradation is rapidly endangering plant and animal species around the world. So much so, that scientists have long warned were in the midst of a sixth extinction. In 2014, a report from scientists at University of California, Berkeley explained that we are currently on the brink of facing the next great extinction on Earth — an episode of mass extinction where 75 percent of the species on the planet vanish within a short (geologically speaking) period of time. Three years later, scientists are still trying to warn the public of the seriousness of the issue, calling the loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” in a published paper.

And now, yet again, scientists are trying to warn us after a dramatic plunge in insect numbers. According to a new study published in the journal Plos One, flying insects have plunged by 75 percent over the past 25 years. While many may have prejudices against insects, in truth, they are a crucial part of life on Earth, both as pollinators and as prey for other wildlife. The newly revealed scale of the loss of inspects has prompted scientists to warn that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon.”

The data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany, but researchers note that the data has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture. The cause of the decline is unclear, but the study notes that the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are most likely the top factors, as well as climate change.  “The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery,” Hans de Kroon, at Radboud University in the Netherlands and who led the new research, told The Guardian.

The research is based on a dozen of entomologists across Germany, who began using a standardized way of collecting insects back in 1989. The decline was found when the total weight of the insects in each sample was measured. The annual average fell by 76 percent over the 27 year period. The decline was even higher at 82 percent in the summertime when insect numbers reach their peak. “Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, told The Guardian.

While this news certainly seems bleak, there are actions you can take today to help fight the dramatic plunge of insects, starting with your dinner plate. If you look at it from a personal perspective, you can cut your own carbon footprint in half just by leaving meat off your plate for one year. (Plus save a lot of water, redirect grain for people to eat, and help protect endangered species…)

For information and advice on how you can play your part in the fight to end species extinction, check out some of the articles below.

Image source: Myriams-Fotos/Pixabay