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Insect populations are declining. Here's why you should be bugging out instead of celebrating.

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WASHINGTON (CIRCA via MOBIUS.LAB) — We may think insects are a nuisance, but they're essential to our ecosystem. They're the core of the food chain, and they pollinate, recycle nutrients and keep soil healthy.

There are 17 times more insects than humans, and they're the most plentiful and diverse in the animal kingdom.

Forty percent of the insect population is in decline, at a rate eight times faster than that of birds, mammals and reptiles. Butterflies, moths and bees have been hit the hardest. At this rate, insects could disappear within 100 years.

Meadow With Butterflies
Colorful butterflies in lavender field. (borchee/Getty Images)

Scientists believe the crisis is global and that the consequences are catastrophic, this being the start of Earth's sixth mass extinction.

Researchers attribute the decline of insects to pesticides, urbanization and climate change.

"A rethinking of current agricultural practices ... is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide," researchers wrote in a Biological Conservation report published in January.

Whether you like them or not, we need insects to survive.

Which endangered species are you?

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