Monday, February 11, 2013

What Good Are Insects?



 I have often written about the good insects in the gardens such as  lady bugs eating aphids and tiny wasps parasitizing scale insects.  But what else are insects good for?  Here are a few other benefits:
    
   Pollination – crops like apples, pears, berries, coffee, melons, cucumbers and squash are dependent upon insects for fruit production.  Their work is estimated to be worth at least 8 billion dollars annually. 
      
 Honey and wax - besides the pollinating services of bees, they also provide us with honey and beeswax which is used in candle making, polishes, inks and cosmetics.
      
 Dyes - many species of scale insects provide dyes that are used in products like cosmetics, medicines, beverages and coloring in cakes.
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  Genetics - Fruit flies have long been used in genetic studies.
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  Decomposition – fly maggots and beetles breakdown carcasses, dung and other organic matter.
   
    Soil improvement – insects like beetles and springtails excavate and aerate the soil.
       
 Aesthetic value – there are many beautiful butterflies and colorful beetles.
      
 Skeleton cleaning –   a group of insects called carpet beetles are utilized by museum personnel to clean mammal skeletons as they feed.
    
 And last, but not least, insects are a food source.  Many cultures utilize insects for their nutritional value and as a condiment. Commonly eaten insects include crickets, ants, grasshoppers, termites, beetles and caterpillars. If your gastronomic juices are flowing, check out wikipedia.org,  search ‘entomophagy’