Climate change could threaten bugs in Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A study indicates that climate change could be threatening many insects in Missouri.

University of Missouri at St. Louis researchers examined 250 insect species whose populations plummeted after mid-spring frosts and summer droughts. The findings, published in the science journal Frontiers, pointed to a population decrease by 95% for some insect species.

The study says cold springs can disrupt caterpillars’ metabolism and kill oak leaves that the insect consumes.

KCUR-FM reports that the study shows populations were eventually able to recover. But Robert Marquis, a professor emeritus of biology at the university, says the populations may not climb back up if climate change makes droughts and spring frost events more frequent.

The 2019 study focused on insects that eat leaves of white oak and black oak trees in Missouri.

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