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Studies evaluate principal threats; delve into how the public perceives news of insect declines; and offer opinions on action that can be taken to preserve insect biodiversity.

Expert contacts:

Scott Black, Executive Director
[email protected]  |  503-449-3792

  • You can thank insect pollinators for one third of every mouthful of food that you eat.
  • Without small flies in streams for young fish to eat your last grilled salmon would have been impossible.
  • If you like songbirds, you can thank an insect—96 percent of birds rely on insects for survival.

PORTLAND, Ore.; Monday, 1/11/21---With well over one million known species, insects and other invertebrates eclipse all other forms of life on Earth. They are essential to the reproduction of most flowering plants, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts; they are food for birds, fish and other animals; they filter water and help clean rivers and streams; and they clean up waste from plants and animals. Just four of the many insect services—dung burial, pest control, pollination and wildlife nutrition—have an estimated annual value in the United States alone of at least $70 billion.

There have been many papers on insect decline and the ramifications of losing diversity, abundance and biomass of insects but the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the most comprehensive look at this topic to date. Eleven articles covering issues related to decline, threats—including climate change—and practical solutions will be published during this week.

Scott Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, worked with Akito Kawahara, associate curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Lawrence Reeves of the University of Florida and Jesse Barber of Boise State University on the paper in this issue entitled, Eight Simple Actions that Individuals can Take to Save Insects from Global Declines.

“The cool thing about insect conservation is that anyone can take part,” said Black. “Eliminating pesticide use, replacing part of your lawn with flowers and turning off your lights can all help insects.”

The Xerces Society is the largest invertebrate conservation group in the world. The Society focuses on taking science to practice and offering practical solutions so that anyone—farmers, park managers and gardeners, federal, state and local agency staff—can take action to protect and restore habitat for insects. 


Eight Simple Actions that Individuals can Take to Save Insects from Global Declines, by Akito Y. Kawahara,  Lawrence E. Reeves, Jesse R. Barber, and Scott H. Black. PNAS January 12, 2021 118 (2) e2002547117

Read all eleven articles on insect declines in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:



The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is a nonprofit organization that protects the natural world by conserving invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is a trusted source for science-based information and advice and plays a leading role in protecting pollinators and many other invertebrates. Our team draws together experts from the fields of habitat restoration, entomology, plant ecology, education, pesticides, farming and conservation biology with a single passion: Protecting the life that sustains us. To learn more, visit or follow us @xercessociety on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.