So, you hate insects, right? We too don’t like them and will be more than happy to see them disappear from the face of this planet that we call home. There will be no need for insecticides, pesticides etc. to protect the crops from insects and pests. This will mean high quality food. There won’t be thousands of deaths all over the world because of malaria, dengue etc. It will be a beautiful world, right? WRONG! Think again before you start with your mission of wiping out all insects from earth. No insects on earth will mean mass extinctions. From plants to animals to humans to marine life – almost everything on earth will be pushed to the brink of extinction in just a few years. Why so? Allow us to explain.
First thing you need to know about bugs and insects is that not all of them are harmful. In fact, most of them are harmless to humans. It is just their appearance that of course, our myopic view of the crawlers and critters make us humans so repulsive to them. According to Goggy Davidowitz, professor of University of Arizona’s Department of Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, absence of insects will tear apart our planet. The question is ‘Why?’
Why No Insects on Earth Will Mean Mass Extinctions?
Davidowitz explains starting with plants. In case you are not aware, 80% of plant life on this planet are all angiosperms, i.e. they are flowering plants. How do flowering plants reproduce? The method that works here is that pollen from a male anther has to be physically transferred to female stigma inside the flower. Who do you think does this job? Yes, insects like butterflies, bees, flies and beetles are blessed with the responsibility of pollinating these plants. In very rare cases bats and birds or wind do this job. In case the insects are removed completely from earth, the first thing that will happen is most of the plant life from earth will vanish. What does that mean? Yes! Earth will be a less greeny place to live. But that’s not the only consequence.
Don’t forget that in most parts of the world, humans are highly dependent of these flowering plants for their dietary needs. Exactly how much. Well, that can be anywhere from 50 to 90% of dietary needs by calories as well as volume. So, if about 80% of world’s plants are wiped out, the very survival of human race will be threatened. Just to let you know, wheat, rice etc. that we are heavily dependent on are all angiosperms but luckily most of staples like rice, wheat, corn etc. are self-pollinating or wind-pollinated. Still, we cannot survive on just a few staples because they won’t address all our nutrition needs. Will they? So, no insects on earth will mean mass extinction of plants.
One may argue, ‘hey, we can eat meat!’ Of course we can but meat isn’t capable of fulfilling all our nutrition needs. On top of that, once we all start eating meat on a large scale, what do you think will happen to the wildlife of this planet? Just forget about humans replacing 100% of their veggie diet with meat in the wake of insect-apocalypse. Let us focus on the impact on animals. Most of the animals we eat are dependent on flowering plants for their diet. For example, cow, chickens etc. We almost forgot. Many freshwater fishes are also dependent on these flowering plants. In absence of the angiosperms, the survival of these animals will be threatened too because their primary food source will be wiped out. This will lead to dramatic fall in our meat supply as well. So, no insects on earth will mean mass extinction of animals too!