Study Finds Butterfly And Bee Populations Are at Risk, Even in Areas Seemingly Undisturbed by Human Activity
Researchers saw a 62.5% decrease in bee populations and a 57.6% decrease in butterfly populations in “at three relatively undisturbed forested locations.”
Human interference, such as the use of pesticides, the practice of monocropping, the introduction of invasive species, and the destruction of pollinator-friendly habitats, are known factors in declining insect populations. However, a new study published in Current Biology reveals that even in locations that see few to no humans, the number of bees and butterflies is still declining.
In a 15-year study conducted from 2007–2022, researchers surveyed insect populations “at three relatively undisturbed forested locations in the southeastern United States.” Researchers saw a 62.5% decrease in bee populations and a 57.6% decrease in butterfly populations in these locations.
The report surmises that these findings could result from warming temperatures in the region or an invasive wood-nesting ant that has become prevalent throughout the surveyed areas.
This decline in pollinator populations poses a serious risk to many species of plants that rely on bee and butterfly pollination for survival. According to the FDA, insects are responsible for pollinating around 90 commercially produced crops, and if these trends continue, we could see significantly fewer fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
“One out of every three bites of food that we eat” is connected to a pollinator, Ron Magill, communications director and wildlife expert at Zoo Miami, told CNN last year. “It’s all so intricately connected, whether you’re eating the food that is directly pollinated or you’re eating something that depends on that pollinator,” he continued. “It’s a domino effect.”