The world risks a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s eco-system” due to plummeting insect numbers, scientists said.
More than 40% of insect species are declining, and could be extinct in 100 years, while a third are endangered, a new ‘study of studies’ found.
The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles.
The study’s authors suggested the way food is farmed today has speeded up the decline in insect numbers.
They said that, without remedy, the effect of insect extinction would threaten human existence.
“The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic, to say the least,” they wrote.
Butterflies and moths are amongst the species worst hit, the report said, according to the Guardian newspaper.
One of the authors, Dr Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, said the report collated the findings from global research.
“We found that 41 percent of species of insects that we know are declining right now,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“10 percent of those we know have become extinct.
“The reports point out first to loss of habitat… then pollution… then climate change.”
Sánchez-Bayo said it was a combination of these factors driving the reduction in the insect population.
The research team has suggested changes to the way food is produced as one way of helping stem the reduction, particularly around the use of pesticides.
The new analysis, which is the first of its kind and was published in the journal Biological Conservation, was a study of 73 sets of research into the phenomenon.
Swedish scientists found last month that growing global demand for animal protein could be served by the mass farming of insects.
But their study warned too little is known about which species would provide the most nutrition, and that processes involved could bring about environmental disaster.