Are we approaching an insect apocalypse?

Professor Dave Goulson

Insects are the most numerous species on Earth & play a critical role in the health of our ecosystem. But insect populations are on the decline. Are we approaching an insect apocalypse & can we reverse this trend?

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Insects, from beetles to ants to flies, are the most populous species in the world. Humans have identified and named well over a million species of insects, but there could be 5 or 10 times as many different kinds.

But insects are fast-disappearing. Their biggest enemy is the industrialised farming methods that have evolved over the course of the last century. Enormous fields of monoculture crops spell disaster for insects, especially when those crops are doused with pesticides.

Would it really matter if insects were to die-off? According to Professor Dave Goulson, we cannot survive in a world free of insects due to the critical role they play in pollinating plants. Most of the fruits and vegetables we eat, including our favourite delicacies like coffee and chocolate, wouldn’t exist without insects.

In this Garden Talk, Professor Dave Goulson shares his insights into the exquisite insect world and why bugs and beetles are our friends. He explains how close we really are to an insect apocalypse and what this would really mean for humanity. How can we reverse this dangerous trend and balance farming practices with creating habitats that will support the return of bees, butterflies and bugs?

Member Questions answered by Dave:

  • Best insect attracting plants for the garden?

  • How do I know that the flowers or seeds I buy from my local garden centre have not been sprayed with insecticides or pesticides?

  • What can I do to help some key hibernating insects in my garden?

  • Which management style is more beneficial for insects - no mow or planting native species of wildflowers/trees etc?

  • Would it be worth campaigning for the government to set a target for pesticide reduction?

  • Should we be planting more native plants to help insects?

  • What is the single most important thing anyone can do to help insects?

Read this talk's transcript

Talk outline


50 minutes

About the Fellow

Professor Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson is a Professor of Biology at the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex. He has published more than 400 articles on insect ecology and conservation and written 6 popular science books which have been translated into 19 languages.

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