New research into insects’ health and reproduction has found the impact of worsening air pollution to be greater than previously thought, even in remote areas. Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Beijing Forestry University and University of California discovered that when air pollution increases, microscopic particles can build up on houseflies’ sensitive antennae. These act as a barrier, meaning the flies struggle to smell food, find a mate and lay eggs. Inevitably, that leads to falling insect numbers, according to the study’s co-author Professor Mark Elgar. The fact that man-made air pollution and wildfire smoke can travel for thousands of kilometres, as shown by the recent spread of Canadian wildfire smoke to New York state, also means no insect is safe, with pollution reaching into previously pristine environments.
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