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Insect apocalypse

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    31st Jan, 2022

Context

In the recent years, there is an ‘insect apocalypse’ underway across the world. Insects have declined by 75% in the past 50 years – and the consequences may soon be catastrophic.

About

What is insect?

  • Any small creature with six jointed legs and a body divided into three parts namely head, thorax and abdomen is known as an ‘insect’.
  • They have wings, two antennae and an exoskeleton. Ants, bees and flies are insects.
  • ‘Entomology’ is the scientific study of insects, a branch of zoology.
  • There may be as many as 10 million species of insects including:
    • 3, 60,000 species of beetle
    • 1, 80,000 species of butterfly and moth
    • 1, 20,000 fly species
    • 1, 10,000 species of bees, wasps and ants
    • 82,000 true bug species (cicadas, aphids, mealy bugs, etc)
    • 20,000 species of grasshoppers
    • 5,000 dragonfly species
    • 2,000 praying mantis species

Threats causing insect apocalypse

  • Habitat loss
  • Climate change
  • Particulate Matter
  • Land-use change
  • Insecticides
  • Light pollution
  • Invasive species 
  • Flowers release odour as chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which help insects locate flowers.
  • Pollutants could react with and change the scents of flowers, making them harder to find.

Why insects matter?

Insects have an essential role to play in the ecosystem.

  • Crop productivity: They pollinate many of fruits, flowers and vegetables, contributing significantly to the productivity of at least 75 per cent of global crop species.
  • Food security: Their services are vital for India’s food security.
  • Pest control: Insects keep pests in check. For example-
    • Ladybird preys on aphids that damage crops.
    • Insects such as ladybird beetles, lacewings, parasite wasps, etc, control other insects, arthropods and vertebrates.
  • Food source: Insects are also food sources for amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
  • Economic significance: Insects have economic importance as well. They provide honey, silk, wax and other products.
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