The sound of buzzing is everywhere. From the time I wake up the buzz of cicadas storming through the Mississippi River swamp acts as my alarm clock to start the day. Not to mention these bugs can vary in size. Microscopic insects penetrate the smallest of cracks and crannies usually buzzing within the walls of your home. Sounds of insects are like the sound of birds, you can appreciate them or not. Buzzing is not primary to insect culture, it is how we see them.
I recently came across an article published in National Geographic entitled Where Have All The Insects Gone. It begs the questions, as a concerned citizen of this planet, am I aware of a dwindling insect population? Insects, to some people, are a nuisance. Insects may require a fly swatter or bites to the skin especially in south Louisiana. Feelings toward insects may change after reading this article. Animal populations have resisted decline, but insects have pressures such as climate change, habitat loss, and pesticide use.
I am hoping to give you space and time to appreciate insects with evidence they are essential in our biome. Insect biodiversity images engage you in a song and dance of colors, sizes, makeup, body composition, and much more. Photography has done a phenomenal job of showing insect biodiversity in size, form, and behavior. As an environmental scientist, I remain hopeful knowing I have the privilege to unearth new species of insects. The insect taxonomy is extensive, but just like ocean creatures, new species may be discoverable. So, how do we examine the appreciation and importance of the insect class? Let’s start with how much insects prove their existence by giving humans the ability to live.
Insects are providers
In nature, all animal species grow and reproduce by consuming an insect of some kind. Insect creatures are in almost every food chain. Insect decline has a direct correlation with species decline. The life cycle starts with nutrients available in nature — that being small insects — giving animals the ability to live and thrive.
Insects are decomposers
Beetles are an example of decomposers and are essential in the cycle of nutrients in ecosystems. Once plants or animals die off, insects convert or decompose those nonliving organisms into organic matter. If you are a fellow composter, waste is converted into a useable form and the cycle of nutrients is not being wasted due to the dung beetle among others.
Insects are pest controllers
Insects clean up harmful pests. Whether you are concerned about pesticide practices or keep plants alive in the garden, insects such as the ladybug and praying mantis feed on crop pests. Pests are active in any agricultural setting and can damage crop yield substantially. Pesticide use is also on the rise. Reducing pesticide use and allowing these pest controllers to help with clean up efforts would increase crop yields and reduce harmful chemicals in our environment.
Insects are POLLINATORS
A staggering 90% of all flowering plants require pollination by insects. Without bees in our ecosystem, plants would be not able to germinate or grow due to a lack of pollination. Our human existence is based upon key food sources available in plants and bees being the pollinators are leaders of this movement. I could say so much more about this, but I will leave it to ponder how important this is.
Insects are Soil Engineers
Soil transformation is happening with termites. These insects change the soil composition is hot arid climates to allow aeration and flow of water and nutrients. Yes, termites may destroy essential wood framing and foundations at home, but termites are crucial in overall soil health.
If humans were to suddenly disappear, biologist Edward O. Wilson has famously observed, the Earth would “regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago.” But “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” — National Geographic
The wording used here has a heightened sense of urgency and instantly caught my attention. It reaffirms my responsibility for taking part in every global environmental change through the so-called Anthropocene epoch — an epoch defined by human planetary impacts. In the article, it states insect diversity has dropped by nearly 40%. How will humans respond?
All ideas were from Where Have All The Insects Gone National Geographic article accompanied by thoughts and observations.