‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss
In this deeply worrisome article about the disappearance of insects and insect-eaters from Puerto Rican forests, the reporter writes that the scientists attribute the decline to climate change and not to pesticides.
He quotes one of the scientists, Bradford Lister, as dismissing the potential contribution of pesticides because "pesticide use has fallen more than 80 percent in Puerto Rico" during the period of insect decline.
This is not scientific evidence against the potential role of pesticides.
While the volume of application may have declined by that much over 40 years, the mix of pesticides is quite different now. For example, neonicotinoid insecticides—extremely powerful against insects—didn't become widely used until the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Now they are ubiquitous. The U.S. Geological Survey has detected them in many agricultural streams across the U.S., including in Puerto Rico.
Also, industrial chemicals like phthalates and bisphenol A are found ubiquitously in environmental samples. French researchers have found phthalates in the cuticle of ants in South American jungles at levels high enough to interfere with reproduction and immune system function.