Flying insects, an annoying but necessary part of life, are disappearing, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One. For the study, researchers evaluated 27 years of insect collection data from German nature preserves and found the biomass of flying insects had fallen by a seasonal average of 76 percent, the Washington Post reports.
“This is very alarming!” ecologist Caspar Hallmann, who was a part of the research team, told the Post.
As detestable as flying insects are, they’re also a vital part of the ecosystem, providing food for animals and playing a vital role in agriculture. As for why the insects are disappearing, researchers appeared stumped. Climate change, they said, seems an unlikely culprit since the increase in temperatures should have helped, not harmed, the insect population.
The study out of Germany is not the first to show a decline in airborne bugs. A 2012 survey by the Zoological Society of London concluded that insect populations around the planet are in decline. In 2014, a study in Science showed a 45 percent global decline in insect life.
But you don’t have to be a scientist to observe this phenomenon. Just get in a car and start driving. As Hallmann told the Post, going for a drive and then checking the windshield for bug guts is “probably one of the best illustrative ways to realize we are dealing with a decline in flying insects.”