Insects are the only animals that man could never dominate. The importance of insects are related to their uses to a man like
- Wax production
- Pest control
- Scavenging nature etc.
Insects are so robust and widely distributed on the earth.
But interestingly, some insects are also beneficial to humans.
Importance of Insects can be read like those for man, agriculture, and even the environment.
Importance of Insects to man
a. For food.
Many insects are consumed as food by humans. This eating of insects is called entomophagy.
Insects are rich in protein and also little amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and iron. Hence, insects like House cricket, European migratory locust, and Meal-worms are grown in industrial mass production.
The processed food produced in North America, Europe, and Canada includes insect burger, insect bread, insect flour, etc.
b. For medicine
Though insect therapy is used in other streams of medicine, modern medicine has limited uses. This is due to the lack of extensive research in the area.
But still, some insects are used for medicine like
Honey bee venom has peptide melittin, which helps to treat inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
Maggot therapy is in testing. Here maggot larva are used to treat nonhealing diabetic wounds.
Spider silk is a product from spider to build its web. It has is a protein fiber in its texture. This is used in a skin graft, stitching nerves, and ligament implants. This is a natural fiber and has the least allergic immune responses.
Poison from spiders, scorpions are used in chronic pain relief and also to treat muscular dystrophy.
c. For silk cloth
Silk is a natural protein fiber obtained from the silkworm. It is shiny, smooth, and soft fiber. This fiber is used in making beautiful clothing material.
In summers, it absorbs sweating, and in winters, it gives warmth. Further, it protects from blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes as they cannot pierce the silk cloth.
Its beauty and other properties make it an expensive cloth. The industry which relies on this is called sericulture.
Further, a modified form of silk thread is used as a nonabsorbable surgical suture.
d. For lac production.
Lac is produced from lac insect. This lac is a resin secretion. It is used as a sealing wax for envelopes. It is also used in making skin cosmetics, wood finish, and dye.
Rarely toys and other valuable products are produced from it.
Importance of Insects in agriculture
a. For pollination
Pollination, as you might have known it is a method of sexual reproduction in plants.
Insects get attracted by flowers due to color and reach them to suck nectar.
In doing so, the pollen grains from flowers (male gametes) get attached to their limbs, winds, and other body parts.
When these insects visit the next flower, this pollen is shed over that. Upon reaching the stigma of a new flower, the pollen merges with the ova and form an embryo.
Thus, insects are biological agents that help in the cross-pollination of plants in agriculture. Thus they help in improving the yield of crops.
b. Pest control for agriculture
Insects are used for pest control. There are two types, like predators and parasitoids.
Predators are those insects that consume other insects.
Example: Lady beetles consume mites, caterpillars, termites, etc.
Parasitoids are those insects that lay their eggs on the surface or inside the other insects. From the eggs, larvae emerge and feed on the host insect-killing it.
Examples of these are the wasps, which use caterpillars as host.
Also, the ladybugs that eat up aphids and other insect larvae growing on crops.
Thus these ladybugs act as pest killers to save the crop from destruction.
Some farmers even rare honey bees to produce honey in their farms. Thus, growing honey bees will increase the revenue of the farmers.
Importance of Insects to the environment:
Pollination is a method of sexual reproduction in plants. Like in agriculture, insects help in the cross-pollination of plants in the environment.
Many insects eat up or carry away dead and decaying matter. Thus they consume them and clear of any waste matter from the environment. Ex: ants take away and feed on dead insects, larva, lizards, etc.
Even you might have noticed dung beetles carrying away spherical balls by rolling. These balls are either human waste or dung of cattle.
They make them into balls and carry away to eat. Thus they help clean the environment.
c. Food for other animals
Many insects live on grass and plants for food. But in turn, they become prey to many birds, amphibians, fishes, lizards, and other animals.
Thus they act to supply food to the members of the food chain.
Hence, notice that during the rainy season, many insects reproduce and multiply a lot.
At the same time, many birds go for hatching their young ones. This time is very suitable as the mother bird can feed its babies with vastly available insects.