Gulf oil spill dramatically decreased insect populations

By on December 10, 2012
A satellite image of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Credit: NASA)

A Louisiana State University professor studying insect populations in wetlands near the Gulf of Mexico found that the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill caused drastic decreases in insect populations, according to a release from the university.

Entomology Professor Linda Hooper-Bui found that hydrocarbons from weathered oil and oil dispersants trapped in sediment release chemicals into the air that kill insects.

She put insects and food in floating cages that exposed the insects only to air. She compared survival rates of insects on the Gulf coast to insects 60 feet inland.

Hooper-Bui’s study in 2010 found a 60 percent drop in coastal insects from years before the spill. She’s observed a trend of continued decrease in insect populations up to last April, where she observed no insect survival along oily coastal areas.

Image: A satellite image of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Credit: NASA)

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