Insects Move To Higher Elevations As Earth Warms

Nov 10, 2020

Insects at the highest altitudes will have nowhere to move to escape warming temperatures.
Credit Michael Dillon

Climate change is forcing insects to move to higher elevations.

University of Wyoming Associate Professor in Zoology and Physiology Michael Dillon said higher global temperatures are not good for insects.

"One pretty well documented pattern is that with changing climates, many animals, including insects, are moving up mountains, probably to escape the heat of low elevations by moving into higher elevations," he said.

Moving insects may not find the resources they need in new places, and they might harm the animals that are already there.

Dillon also said insects will likely come out earlier in the year and stay later. That means their interaction with plants and animals will shift in space and time.

"Most people think of them [insects] as the food for everything else," he said. "We don't really know what's going to happen to those things that eat insects if those insects either disappear locally or move."

Dillon said scientists don't know what the long-term effects of the insect movement will be. For that, they need more data.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.