Big Data: 53.54kg

Shutterstock/Michael Warwick

By Globe Staff 

53.54kg: That’s the total weight of insects collected by scientists in Germany at dozens of locations between 1989 and 2016. The weight of the bugs — biomass, as it’s called — illustrates an alarming annual decline in the number of all insects, rather than the well-known trend of vanishing bees. Over that 27-year period, the number of bugs declined 76 percent, independent of changes in weather, habitat, or land use. The knock-on effects of this decline could be enormous; 80 percent of wild plants are pollinated by insects, while 60 percent of birds rely on eating them for food. In the United States, the value of ecological services performed by insects is $57 billion.