Category Archives: Insects and culture

Chalupines (grasshopper tacos)

Chalupines (grasshopper tacos)

In embracing the UNs recent call for people to eat more insects, Chelse tried the Chalupines (grasshoppers) at a local Mexican restaurant in Houston. This dish is common in some parts of Mexico,  Her assessment: Limey, salty, crunchy deliciousness! Although they were indeed orthopterans, the critters in the dish were actually nymphs of a neoconocephalus (cone-headed katydid) species. The dish consisted of about 25 katydid nymphs boiled and sauteed with onions, cilantro, lime and salt with a side of both guacamole and salsa. The waiter said that these are brought up from a guy in Mexico periodically. He also extolled another delicacy that the restaurant sometimes servesant eggs.

Id like to find out more how these guys harvest and the economics behind this for a future post. (In the meantime, I found a great public photo album on facebook by a documentary maker about his experience going along for one of these harvest.)

Could this find its way onto your plate sometime soon? The entomophagy movement is certainly growing in popularity!

Do people dislike insects? Why?

Most insect scientists (and I’d guess, most people in general) express a general sense that there are lots of people that don’t like insects. We probably could all come up with anecdotal evidence of this. For instance, my mother-in-law talks about trouble eating in our apartment because I have a poster of grasshopper in our kitchen, and this makes her queasy. I’d guess, however, that most people just ignore them. Angela talks gave me some anecdotal evidence of this: She always helps out with an exercise at the Konza prairie to get kids collecting insects, i.e. the insect grab at the Konza Visitors Day. After collecting insects, the kids have a booklet to fill out that asks them to give the scientific name of an animal. Even though they are looking right at a terrarium full of insects they all try to think of a mammal to list. Also as qualitative evidence, I can find lots of blogs / blog posts (like this or this or this) and newspaper articles (like this or this or this) that express the perception that insects are often disliked. But, I had only read one or two studies that actually tried to quantify this.

For this post, I wanted to delve deeper into these questions: has it been shown lots of people generally dislike insects? And, if so, why do people dislike insects? Does this differ among social groups, ages, or genders? Does this differ culturally? 

Avoidance, ignorance, and dislike of insects

The reason that I hadnt read a lot of studies about how people perceive insects is that there arent all that many out there (although, admittedly, my search has been rather limited thus far). The studies that I have found that actually take some measurement of how people feel about insects (especially relative to other groups of animals) do tend to generally find what we all expected: both adults and children generally negative attitudes towards or ignorance / avoidance of insects. I was a little dismayed that all studies that measured a gender difference reported that negative attitudes towards insects (or more generally invertebrates) seem to be stronger in females than males. There have been conflicting findings about age, however, some report people dislike insects less as they get older, and others the opposite trend. I could not find any studies outside of the US and Europe, so this discussion is unfortunately represents Western attitudes, only. (Also, if anyone is aware of studies from non-US or European places, wed love to know about them. I suspect Asian attitudes towards insects could be different, as insects can be culturally important in some Asian cultures, as we discuss here.)

Here are some examples:

  •  US adult aversion to insects: A survey by Kellert (1993) showed that of 214 residents of a small town in Connecticut, members of the public and farmers generally viewed invertebrates (insects and spiders in particular) “with aversion, anxiety, fear, avoidance, and ignorance”, while scientists and conservation organization members were more positive and knowledgeable of them In accordance, most of the general public disapproved of major expenditures to protect threatened invertebrate species. Most people seemed to better understand the roles of lepidopterans in relation to agriculture and gardening, but didn’t know the taxonomy or general importance of other groups. Positive attitudes towards invertebrates were greater in males than females, those with above a high school education, and in younger respondents compared to older.
  • Norwegian adult aversion to insects: Bjerke and Østdahl (2004) showed that in one Norwegian city, the majority of people dislike most invertebrate species, as compared to mammals and birds, which were generally liked by most people.  Butterfly species were liked, and grasshoppers were considered neutral species. Men were the ones that were most likely to prefer the disliked species, like insects, and, for some invertebrate species, there was a tendency for invertebrates in general to be more well-liked by older people.
  • Children’s general ignorance of insects: Children tended to underappreciate the importance of insects and their diversity to different ecosystems, and ultimately, humans. Drawing on children from Nebraska and New Jersey, Strommen (1995) found that children had very little awareness of insects as members of forest ecosystems (only 13 % of them included them in drawings to depict forest systems) As an aside, boys had more knowledge about forest life than girls. Barrow (2002) found that most students (K-6) interviewed had more knowledge about the harmful effects of insects than their helpful effects.  Snaddon, Turner and Foster (2008) showed that children visiting the University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge vastly underrepresented insects as a component of rainforest biodiversity in drawings to depict the biodiversity in a rainforest, and then analyzing these drawings.  Previous work by Snaddon and Turner(2007) in the UK has shown that children know more about groups of insects represented in popular culture, and that their knowledge was not necessarily about insect groups that were most common or threatened in the UK.

Why do we dislike and  / or ignore insects?

I found very little evidence of this, largely just speculation in discussions of the papers above (and other). As such, I’ll put forth what I’ve always the two things that I’ve always thought contribute most, which is partially in line with what the above authors have said, and in line a couple of points from Hillmans Why we hate bugs.

First, because we are more closely related to mammals, we can understand them better and appreciate the “beauty” they possess more easily. I think that many people are just very confused by insects. They look very different than us. They have different life cycles, reproduce differently, and behave in very different ways than us. Confusion and misunderstanding of insects often leads to aversion and fear.

Second, a handful of insects that can potentially harm people or resources they depend upon have given the rest a bad wrap (I can think of other animal groups that this has happened to, such as snakes and sharks). This phenomenon may be more prominent for insects, however, because nearly everyone has firsthand knowledge of the potentially harmful (at the very least irritating) effects of insects via insect bites, and we all hear news of insect outbreaks harming agriculture or disease outbreaks spread by insects. We fear and avoid that which may do us harm, and since most people know very little about insects, they fear and / or avoid insects in general.

So…what can change these negative perceptions?

There are certainly many on social media that are aiming to change this general dislike. For instance, an insect natural history class at Berkeley actually reviewed bug blogs, and certainly a main goal of many of these is to get people to appreciate the insect world more. There are lots of admirable people and organizations that actively seek out opportunities to educate the public about insects and their roles in ecosystems. For instance,The Bug Chicks have a wonderful blog, do events and media all to teach the public about insects and arthropods. And, with regards to childrens perceptions of insects, Chris Buddle has posted about how well-received (and fun!) his outreach with kids about bugs has been.

With the growing awareness that insects are very important to humans, including the recent UN recognition of their potential as an important food source, human perceptions must change at some point. Other than those of us that actively seek out local opportunities to change human perceptions about insects, is there a way to do this at a larger scale? If I am right about why people dislike insects, this change in perception would mean: 1) fostering a better understanding of insects to dispel fear and avoidance, and 2) showing that most insects are beneficial, and educating people about those that are potential harmful. Im guessing one cornerstone of this would be to start with kids, as many public awareness programs do.

We’d love to hear any ideas that are floating around out there about both why people dislike and fear insects, and what can be done to change this widespread perception.

IMG_4432

Unsung Heroes: The Humble Dung Beetle

If I asked someone to make a list of beneficial insects, he or she would most likely think of pollinators like honeybees or maybe predators such as dragonflies.  I suspect that very few people would think to include dung beetles on their list, but these insects are actually very important, ecologically and economically.  Chelse and I were recently at a grassland ecology conference held at the Konza Prairie Biological Station.  We had a very lively and very entertaining discussion with an ecologist from South Africa about whether or not insects were important to ecosystems.  This ecologist maintained that insects could not have strong effects on ecosystems the way that large vertebrates do, however he did make a single exception: dung beetles.  So why are dung beetles so important?  What do they do and why should we care?

Let’s start with some natural history.  There are around 7,000 known species of dung beetles, which belong to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea.  Dung beetles are found on all continents except Antarctica, and occur in a variety of habitat types including grasslands and forests.  Dung beetles are coprophagic, which means they eat poop.  Dung beetles eat poop as adults and as larvae.  Many dung beetles roll the dung into a ball that is used for food or to create a “brooding ball”, in which the females lay eggs.  After the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the dung.  Dung beetles can be grouped into three main categories.  “Tunnelers” bury their brooding balls in the ground, often near the original dung.  “Rollers” transport the dung balls farther away from the original dung, often in remarkably straight lines, before they bury it.  Dung beetles recently made news when it was discovered that they can use the stars to orient themselves!  Dung beetles are the only species apart from humans known to do this.  “Dwellers” brood their young inside the dung, rather than in separate brooding balls.

DSCN1156

Watching dung beetles is fun! Im always impressed by how fast they move and how symmetrically round they get the dung balls. This beetle is from Konza Prairie, where there is a herd of ~ 300 bison.

Most areas support a diverse community of dung beetles made up of species from each of these groups.  The effects of dung beetles on ecosystem services depend on the composition of the dung beetle community.  Dung beetles with different behaviors (i.e. rollers vs. dwellers) will have different effects on ecosystem services.   The maintenance of ecosystem services by dung beetles depends on a diverse assemblage of dung beetle species.

So how do dung beetles affect ecosystems?  Dung beetles contribute to several ecosystem services.   A nice review paper by Nichols et al (2008) details the many ecosystem services provided by dung beetles.  I’ve summarized the highlights from their paper here.

Dung beetles are important to nutrient cycling.  Poop contains many nutrients.  By breaking poop into smaller pieces and moving it underground, dung beetles facilitate decomposition and make the nutrients available to other organisms.  Studies have found that many soil nutrients are increased when dung beetles are present.  Dung beetles also increase nitrogen mineralization.  Nitrogen mineralization is the process by which nitrogen is converted from an organic to an inorganic form, making it available for use by plants (and subsequently, the rest of the food web).  This is important because nitrogen is often a limiting nutrient in terrestrial systems, which means that adding nitrogen can increase productivity.  Thats why fertilizers contain nitrogen.

Dung beetles are also important for soil bioturbation.  Bioturbation is the mixing and redistribution of sediments.  This is an important process that affects soil moisture and soil aeration.  For comparison, earthworms are also important for bioturbation, which is why gardeners like to see them in their flowerbeds.  Tunnelers are especially important for bioturbation.

By increasing nitrogen availability and by facilitating decomposition, nutrient cycling, and bioturbation, dung beetles can increase plant productivity.   Many studies have found that dung beetles can increase plant biomass, nitrogen content, and grain production.  Some studies have even shown that the positive effects of beetles on plant production are equal to or higher than the effects of chemical fertilizers!   Dung beetles may also contribute to plant productivity by dispersal of seeds found in dung, which can lead to increased plant recruitment.   And some species of dung beetles are important pollinators of decay-scented flowers.

Dung beetles can reduce the abundance of parasites and flies that breed in dung.  For example, fly abundances and parasite loads in livestock decrease when dung beetle abundance is experimentally increased.

The importance of dung beetles to livestock production has been demonstrated in Austraila, where cattle were introduced by Europeans.  Because the local dung beetles were not acclimated to feeding on cattle dung, rangelands became fouled with slowly decomposing cattle dung.  Cattle will not forage near dung, so as the amount cow poop increased, rangeland available for cattle foraging declined.  Pests like flies also increased in abundance, but declined sharply after dung beetles were introduced.

Economic importance.  Losey and Vaughan (2006) published a really cool paper that estimates the economic value of four ecosystem services (dung burial, pollination, pest control, and wildlife nutrition) provided by insects.  They estimated the economic benefit of dung beetles to cattle production in the United States is worth at least $380 million a year!  This is based on the many ecosystem services that dung beetles provide that increase forage production and decrease livestock pests.  It’s important to note that this figure doesn’t include the effects of dung beetle on production of other types of livestock, or on ecosystem services not related to livestock production.  This means that the economic value of the ecosystem services provided by dung beetles in the United States is actually much higher.

Bison at Konza Prairie.  A health dung beetle community contributes to sustainable management of bison and other large herbivore populations.

Bison at Konza Prairie.  A healthy dung beetle community contributes to sustainable management of  ecosystems like grasslands and the animals that live there.

Importance of a diverse dung beetle community.  Dung beetles are important to ecosystems and provide a variety of important ecosystem services. There is still a lot to learn about how dung beetles affect ecosystem processes, especially in forests.  But protecting dung beetle diversity and abundance may be critical to the sustainable management of many ecosystems, including rangelands used for livestock production.  For example, a recent study by Beynon et al (2012) finds that high dung beetle species richness increases dung decomposition rates, and may be especially critical for maintaining ecosystem services when the system is disturbed.  They measured decomposition rates of cattle dung exposed to one, two, or three species of dung beetles.   After 36 weeks, more dung was decomposed when three species of dung beetles were present, than when only one or two species of dung beetles were present.  They also conducted the experiment on dung collected from cattle treated with ivermectin, which is used to reduce parasites.  Dung decomposition in these treatments was lower than dung decomposition of control treatments (no ivermectin), but not when three dung beetle species were used.

So what do these data tell us?  They tell us that ivermectin treatment of cattle can have negative effects on decomposition by dung beetles.  However, when a more diverse assemblage of dung beetles (3 species) was present, this negative effect of ivermectin disappeared.  This is because each of the dung beetle species used responded differently to the ivermectin treatment.   So, having several species available means it is more likely that there is at least one species that can tolerate new or different conditions.  Maintaining high species diversity of dung beetles may be critical to maintaining the ecosystem services they provide.

So give some love to the humble dung beetles!  Not only are they really cool animals, they provide many important ecosystem services that are economically and ecologically valuable.

References:

Beynon, S. A., D. J. Mann, E. M. Slade, and O. T. Lewis. (2012). Species-rich dung beetle communities buffer ecosystem services in perturbed agro-ecosystems. Journal of Applied Ecology 49:1365-1372.

Losey, J. E. and M. Vaughan. (2006). The economic value of ecological services provided by insects. BioScience 56:311-323.

Nichols, E., S. Spector, J. Louzada, T. Larsen, S. Amequita, M. E. Favila, and The Scarabaeinae Research Network. (2008). Ecological functions and ecosystem services provided by Scarabaeinae dung beetles. Biological Conservation 141:1461-1474.

Now in print: Invertebrates, ecosystem services, and climate change

Our Biological Reviews paper, Invertebrates, ecosystem services, and climate change is now in print! Writing this paper was the catalyst for us starting this blog. Please enjoy!

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12002/abstract

IMG_4480

Insects and People: News Roundup (Feb 15)

Insect outbreaks viewed from space

The Smithsonian has a cool blog post about using satellite images to track insect damage to trees over time.  Increasing temperatures (especially increasing winter temperatures) and drought conditions have led to outbreaks of bark beetles like the mountain pine beetle throughout the western U.S., causing widespread damage to millions of acres of forest.  As large swaths of trees are killed by the beetles, they become a fire hazard.  Scientists are using the satellite images to track patterns of insect outbreaks and correlate them with weather patterns.

Moths drive tiny robots

Robots that can detect and track odors such as gas leaks or environmental spills could become increasingly useful in the future, and insects are a useful model for such robots.   Scientists from the University of Tokyo have built a small moth-driven robot to study how moths detect pheromones (chemical signals).  By understanding the neurological and behavioral processes by which a moth detects and tracks down an odor, their goal is to eventually build a robot “brain” that can track odors as well as the moth.  They have recently published their findings in the Journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

Insect eggs used in production of flu vaccine

The FDA has recently approved a new flu vaccine called Flublok.  This vaccine is unique because it is grown inside insect cells from the fall armyworm moth rather than in chicken eggs.    This vaccine can be produced more quickly than traditional vaccines.  It can be used by people who are allergic to eggs and doesn’t include thimerosal, which contains mercury.

Insects and People: News Roundup (Feb. 6th)

A few news stories about insects from the past week.

More entomophagy: Eating insectsyou do it anyway

There are stories about people eating insects on an almost daily basis. In this one from the BBC, a chef argues that, since you eat insects unknowingly anyway, why not eat them purposefully?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/0/21260185

Exploiting insect guts for use in the biofuel sector

Scientists have been looking for enzymes to effectively break down lignin in biofuel facilities in the guts of insects. It turns out the microbes in the guts of grasshoppers may be potential candidates for future use in this manner.

http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/biofuels/news/insects-gut-microbes-hint-at-biofuel-breakthrough-.html

Insects as pets

In a post about singing insects, I talked about how people in China keep crickets and katydids as pets. USA today published an article recently about people in the US keeping insects as pets. Ill admit that I did have hissing cockroaches for a time when I was in high school. But I am glad to see that others in this country do this as well!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/05/pets-bugs-roaches/1893707/

CSI insects: Museums highlight using insects to fight crime

Forensic entomology is a branch of science that uses insects to indicate things about crimessuch as how long a body has been dead, or if a corpse may have been moved. A few museums have exhibits about this branch of scienceI wish I were in the area of one, Id definitely check it out.

London: http://azdailysun.com/lifestyles/columnists/london-zoo-crime-fighting-insects/article_6acd52df-8148-52ec-b80d-91a1e41e98a9.html

Las Vegas: http://downtown.8newsnow.com/photo-gallery/crime/147055-using-insects-solve-crimes

Humans and Insects: The Science Summarized

This will be a regular feature on the blog that summarizes recent scientific papers discussing the role of insects in human society.  Since Chelse and I are ecologists, the papers we review will primarily examine insect effects on people from a biological perspective, but we would love to hear about relevant papers from other disciplines.  Our first entry deals with a recent review of the ways that insects have been used in warfare throughout history.

Jeffrey A. Lockwood (2013).  Insects as weapons of war, terror, and torture.  Annual Review of Entomology.  57: 205-227.

Jeffrey Lockwood, a biologist and philosopher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wyoming has published a review of the many ways that insects have been used in warfare and as instruments of torture throughout history.  The material covered in the review paper is expanded upon in his book Six-Legged Soliders:  Using Insects as Weapons of War.  I have not read the book, but I am planning to read it now.   The paper was really interesting, if at times quite disturbing.

Lockwood gives a chronological overview of the ways that insects were used in warfare from prehistoric to modern times.  The Mayans, ancient Greeks, and Middle Eastern cultures would fling hives at enemies.  The Mayans would even make pottery hives for bees to colonize.  The hives would then be plugged with grass and flung at enemies as “bee grenades”.  Over time, use of insects in warfare has become more technical, with the use of insects in biological warfare.

Use of insects in warfare seems to fall into three categories.  (1) The use of stinging and biting insects to repel attackers.  This usually involved releasing insects into tunnels or flinging hives or clay pots filled with bees at enemies.  In Great Britain, for example, many castles had recesses in the walls to hold bee hives, which were dropped onto attackers.  (2) The passive use of insects, especially disease vectors.  This mainly involved forcing enemies into areas with insects that transmit diseases.  For example, during the U.S. Civil War, Confederate General Johnson managed to trap Union troops along the Chickahominy River outside of Richmond Virginia, an area known for malaria.  Within a few months, more than half of the union forces were too sick to fight or hospitalized.  (3)  Development of insects for biological warfare.  This involves more technical advancement than simply hurling hives at enemies.  During World War II, governments began seriously funding research into the use of insects for biological warfare.  This included using insects to transmit human diseases to opposing troops and the use of insects to compromise enemy food supplies.  Insects could be used to compromise food supplies by developing insects as crop pests and by using insects to transmit livestock diseases.  Use of insects in biological warfare has continued to modern times.

This paper was an interesting read.  I had no idea that insects had been used so extensively in warfare throughout history, but it makes sense.  Lockwood concludes with a warning that modern bioterrorists can cause outbreaks with the use of insect disease vectors or do significant damage to food supplies by reintroducing eradicated insect pests.  Insects have been used in warfare throughout history and this will likely continue.

Insect Songsnoise or Music?

You’ve undoubtedly heard many insects making sounds, and maybe you find certain noises of theirs annoying, such as flies and bees buzzing. There are some true musicians in the insect world: namely, orthopterans (grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets) and cicadas. There are countless scientific studies on insect songs, ranging from descriptive studies that detail the particular song of a species, to how temperature affects insect songs. If you’re interested, there is a blog dedicated solely to the music of nature, which discusses insect songs much more in-depth than I will here.

I started thinking more about the songs of these insects when I started working at my current field site at the University of Houstons Coastal Center, a remnant of rare tallgrass coastal prairie along the Gulf Coast of Texas. You can hear different orthopterans (grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets) calling at different times of the day. The softer thrills of southeastern crickets while it’s dark, and loud calls of katydids during the heat of the day, which to me often sound like those sprinklers with rotating heads.

Not knowing too much about these different insect calls, I started looking for a good resource on the subject and stumbled across this wonderful book by Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger. It describes 72 species of orthopterans and cicadas that produce songs in east/central North America. The best part, for an insect geek like me, is the CD it contains that provides sound clips of many of these insects singing, and if you’re particularly interested, you can learn to identify many species of these singing insects by learning their calls.

Most of these songs are produced to find a mate, and it’s more often the males calling to attract females than visa versa. Sometimes calls let another male, potentially rivaling for females know not to get too close, that this area is claimed. A few band-winged grasshopper species (characterized most simply by bright, colorful wings) produce a clicking sound both in an attempt to scare off a potential predator, and, again, to attract mates.

So, are people affected by these insect musicians? My guess would be if you asked this question to the average urban or suburban American, they would say no. In these settings, we hear fewer insects simply because there isn’t much habitat for them in cities, and even where there is grass, it’s often a lawn that is mowed or treated with pesticides. If they happen to be observant and live in the areas of certain annual cicadas whose calls are harbingers of summer, they may say yes. Maybe folks in rural areas would be inclined to admit a nostalgia for or distinct feeling of summer upon hearing insect songs, as this is when many of these singing insects are active.

David Attenborough talks about what is considered one of the most spectacular gatherings of insect musicians globally, the songs of 17-year cicadas in the midwestern US in the BBCs Life in the Undergrowth (which, as a side note, is a must watch series for anyone that appreciates insects).

The first time I experienced this phenomenon was as a child in 1987, growing up in Northern Kentucky. Once they emerged, cicadas appeared to be dripping off plants. You could not walk down the sidewalk without stepping on one. My mom and I made cobblers from blackberries we’d picked. My aunt bit into something crunchy, and sure enough, a cicada had snuck into the cobbler. Either way, the major thing I remember was people complaining about them. In places with many old trees where the ground has not recently been tilled, the screeching can, as Attenborough says, be deafening. This large emergence of cicadas has other important effects on ecosystems, including effects nutrient cycles (Yang 2004), and providing huge pulses of food for predators, which often causes a boom in predator populations, such as red-winged blackbirds that also have distinctive calls (Strehl and White 1986). Although not everyone appreciates this phenomenal spectacle, it is certainly a wonder of nature.

Apparently, in certain areas of Asia, however, singing insects are revered. In Japan, people sell insects as a profession (and are called mushiya; there is a book chapter about this here).  People keep them in their houses in the winter time so they can hear their songs year-round, and plan vacations to places where certain insects are known to call. Calling insects are also important to people in China: there has even been recent press about this (although, the title is misleading the insects are not singing for their food). One man, who apparently carries around a singing orthopteran in his pocket is quoted as saying, During the winter it is dry and cold and you cannot hear any birdsong. The sound of bush crickets makes me happier. That would make me happy in the cold, gray winter, too!

But now there is evidence that singing insects are affected by our noise as well.  A forthcoming study in Functional Ecology has gotten a lot of public press recently (Lampe et al 2012) provides evidence that male grasshoppers near German roadsides alter their songs to be better heard by potential female mates. This is the first evidence that insect musicians must now compensate for human noise. I wonder what other insects may be changing their songs because were a noisy species?

Human feelings about these singers may range from annoyance to appreciation to reverence. I’d like to do more research but haven’t seen any studies that attempt to quantify how humans feel about the sounds of different insects. Although Japanese and Chinese cultures are certainly influenced by insect songs, their economies must be affected in some small way, I haven’t yet found any studies that quantify this.

I, for one, have gained a fondness for insects songs, and a desire to be able to identify insects by their songs since my time working in prairies. Do you notice these singing insects? Do they affect your life in any appreciable way?

Why We Are Starting This Blog

We often get asked, why? Why study insects? Even other scientists who agree that insects are interesting don’t necessarily think that insects may have important effects in ecosystems compared to bigger animals. Angela and I were at a grassland meeting together, and, over lunch, a well-respected professor laughed at us when we were discussing a future experiment looking at how important grasshoppers were to grasslands at our field site. You’re talking about a bug on a leaf!, he crooned, while laughing hysterically.

So why? Other than the fact that we personally love insects, insects have very important roles in ecosystems, and believe it or not, to human society and well-being. Science has shown this.  We got a paper that will soon be published reviewing this subject (well post about it soon!). E. O. Wilson, a famous ecologist, and insect lover wrote an article entitled The little things that run the world where he claimed that humans would not survive more than a few months if all insects were removed from the Earth overnight. Luckily, we’ll never know if this is true. But, we know that they’re extremely important to humans in many ways.

We’ll use this blog to highlight the ways that insects affect us humans (both positively and negatively!). Selfishly, this is also a place for us to keep these examples documented for our teaching and research purposes. We hope that you get something out of this. Feel free to contact us to share your experiences (or examples we might not be aware of) regarding how insects affect you!