Insects and their Importance

Imagine a world filled with rotting meat, a world with few flowers, vegetables or fruit, a world which falls silent, stinks and is full of decay. This would be our world without insects.

Flowers of any size are made are to attract insects for pollination. Plants which are wind pollinated have small, hardly noticeable flowers and no reason to have a scent. Without insects, the flowers of vegetables and fruit would not be pollinated, so we would have few vegetables or fruit other than the odd tuber or rhizome. From nuts to tomatoes – all need insects. Plants would probably not develop fruiting varieties because there would be no advantage to their propagation.

Any leaves, plant material or animal droppings would stay where they fell. Insects are the biggest recyclers on the planet. From woodlice and ants to dung beetles, insects devour, bury, carry off, digest and incorporate waste materials into the earth, disposing of it on the one hand and creating rich compost for future plant growth on the other.

Insects take a lot of debris into the ground to their tunnels, nests and feeding chambers and it is only here where soil bacteria can act upon it to release the nutrients contained within. Plants can only take nutrients in in dissolved form so without the insects and later bacteria they would not be able to get the nutrients locked in the organic debris.

Insects often form the base of huge food chains, feeding amphibians, birds, other predatory insects and wildlife. Without insects, many birds would not survive.

Insects also, as we know, carry disease, take bacterial and viral infections to plants and animals and some will lay their eggs in meat or other food as soon as you leave it for a minute or so but this is only their job as number one decomposer. By digesting food, or leaving their grubs to do this, they change its chemical nature, get rid of the waste and release nutrients to the soil.

As far as disease is concerned, insects also provide plants with great defence mechanisms- immunity. Many cultivars are now immune to certain viruses carried by aphids and other insects beause they became infected. Without the infection originally by an insect, the crops would be far more susceptible to air-borne bacteria, fungi and viruses but because insects infect them with related , animal carried pathogens, the plants develop immuity to similar ones carried by oher vectors.

Insects are natures pollinators, providers of food, medical asistansts and chief trash disposers so they have incredible importance in the world.

Every insect, no matter how annoying or small, has a role to play in the greater scheme of things. Often they are pollinators (it is not just bees but many insects pollinate many type of plants, the plants even adapt for their size and feeding methods). Many of these plants are essential for us to survive and others will be looking for organic material to feed on and dispose of. Many insects prey on pests too, for example hoverflies eat aphids, some insects infest slugs and kill them and predatory wasps can be used to destroy whitefly so each one has a role.

Insects are great – no in too many numbers but they are important!