Insects provide a wide range of benefits to humanity. Most of our crops are dependent on pollination by honey bees and other insects. Even the production of meat and milk depend on pollinated plants that are eaten by domestic animals.
Honey bees produce honey (more than 1 million tons produced every year) and beeswax. The larva of the silkworm moth secrets silk form its salivary glands. The annual value of raw silk is estimated at about $ 1.4 billion. Certain insects are used for biological control in agriculture.
Insects perform a vast number of vital functions in our ecosystems. They provide foods for many birds, mammals, and fishes on which fishing and hunting depends. They also decompose dead materials, thereby reintroducing nutrients into the soil. Burrowing bugs such as ants and beetles dig tunnels that provide channels for water, benefiting plants.
Insects can be effective as predators to control pests for agriculture. For example, the beetle (Rodolia cardinalis) is used to control the Cottony-Cushion Scale (Icerya purchase) from sucking the branches and bark of many fruit trees.
In many parts of the world, people use insects as a major source of food including protein. For example, in Mexico grasshoppers and other insects are sold in village markets and are fried before being eaten. By weight, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars, weevils, and house flies are better sources of protein than beef, chicken, pork or lamb. Further, insects are low in cholesterol and fat.
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Insects play a major role in decomposing organic
matters. © Pierre Fidenci