If pollinator insects die off, what will happen to life on Earth?

Peter Soroye, a biologist at the University of Ottawa, said that if pollinating insects die              off, it would drastically reshape life on Earth as we know it.

“Nearly 90 percent of flowering plants rely on animals to pollinate them,” he said. “The majority of these pollinators are insects like bees, wasps, butterflies, flies and beetles, although birds, bats and a few other animals also play a role in pollination.” Wind-pollinated plants, especially grasses, would still flower, but diversity would decline. Global warming is a big threat to pollinators. Bumblebees, for example, are very vulnerable to heat waves

And if pollinators died off, it would pose a threat to food supplies, since 70 of the most important 100 food crops require insect pollination, Soroye added.

Insects like bees pollinate many of the fruits, nuts and vegetables that are required for a nutritious diet. Berries, pumpkin, coffee and chocolate are just some of the foods that would disappear if we were to lose insect pollinators. Staples like corn, rice and wheat would remain, but our diets would become much less exciting. ”Picture eating spaghetti without ever having any tomato sauce,” he said. “Humans could begin hand pollinating or using robots to pollinate, but it would be very costly and difficult to do at the scale of insects.

Soroye added, “Across the globe insects are declining, including key pollinators like wild bumblebees, but a world without insect pollinators isn’t a reality we need to face. By addressing the main threats to these insects like habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use, we can begin to turn the tide on these declines.” 

Bob Berwyn

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