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Table of Contents
Quotes from Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas Tallamy:
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. (E.O. Wilson, who called insects “the little things that run the world”)
All Plant and Animal Life Depends on Insects
Insects pollinate 87.5% of all plants, and 90% of all flowering plants.
Insects are also the primary means by which the food created by plants is delivered to animals. Most vertebrates do not eat plants directly. Far more often, they eat insects that have converted plant sugars and carbohydrates into the vital proteins and fats that fuel complex food webs.
Insects, then, sustain the earth’s ecosystems by sustaining the plants and animals that run those ecosystems.
Insects rapidly decompose dead plants, releasing the nutrients they contain for use by new plant life. And by keeping the planet well-vegetated, insects maintain the watersheds in which we all live, keeping out water clean and minimizing the frequency and severity of floods.
As if all of that were not enough, the plants that insects pollinate sequester enormous amounts of carbon within their bodies and within the soil around their roots, carbon that would otherwise be in the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on the Earth’s climate.
Our Attitude Towards Insects Is Backward
Humans would last only a few months if insects were to disappear from the Earth. It is remarkable, then, that our cultural relationship with insects is not one of awe and appreciation, but of disgust and animosity. We have created a culture in which insects and their arthropod relatives are maligned.
By killing insects, we are biting the hand that feeds us. And that had led to the most alarming statistic of all: invertebrate abundance—the number of insects—has been reduced 45% globally since 1974.