“If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”. Expounding on this statement, noted entomologist E. O. Wilson went on to explain that, without insects and other invertebrates (animals without backbones), all life would grind to a halt. Yet while many pollinate plants, provide us with medicines and are otherwise helpful, others are dangerously venomous, spread disease, and consume valuable crops. But as we’ll see, harmful invertebrates are in the minority, and even they hold secrets that can be of immense value to humankind.
Mammals, birds and other well-known vertebrates comprise only 5% of the world’s animals…the balance is made up of insects, spiders, crabs, mites and an unimaginable diversity of other invertebrates.
Estimated at 30 million species, insects are the largest invertebrate group. To put their numbers in context, consider this – the weight of insects in most African rainforests exceeds that of all resident vertebrates combined! This statement takes into account such huge mammals as forest elephants and gorillas, and the incredibly numerous bats and rodents! Insects are abundant outside the tropics as well – an acre of Pennsylvania soil may hold 425 million individuals, while New York is home to over 4,125 beetle species. Read More »