Open Access Published online by De Gruyter November 23, 2023


‘Worldwide, insects are declining at an alarming rate. Among other causes, the use of pesticides and modern agricultural practices play a major role in this. Cumulative effects of multiple low-dose toxins and the distribution of toxicants in nature have only started to be investigated in a methodical way. Existing research indicates another factor of anthropogenic origin that could have subtle harmful effects: the increasingly frequent use of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from man-made technologies. This systematic review summarizes the results of studies investigating the toxicity of electromagnetic fields in insects. The main objective of this review is to weigh the evidence regarding detrimental effects on insects from the increasing technological infrastructure, with a particular focus on power lines and the cellular network. The next generation of mobile communication technologies, 5G, is being deployed – without having been tested in respect of potential toxic effects. With humanity’s quest for pervasiveness of technology, even modest effects of electromagnetic fields on organisms could eventually reach a saturation level that can no longer be ignored. An overview of reported effects and biological mechanisms of exposure to electromagnetic fields, which addresses new findings in cell biology, is included. Biological effects of non-thermal EMF on insects are clearly proven in the laboratory, but only partly in the field, thus the wider ecological implications are still unknown. There is a need for more field studies, but extrapolating from the laboratory, as is common practice in ecotoxicology, already warrants increasing the threat level of environmental EMF impact on insects.’