Humans have always existed together with wildlife on planet earth, and that includes insects. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that one-third of the insect population is at risk of extinction. Insects are getting extinct at an estimation of 2.5% every year. This means that in the next few years, we may lose up to 50% of the insect population if we do nothing about the current situation.
Now, some ignorant persons may gloat over the fact they’ll have fewer flies and creeping things to worry about. However, you should know insects form an important part of our ecosystem.
What Role do Insects Play in Our World?
While the existence of these little creeping or flying creatures, they are very much necessary in the grand scheme of things. Although they are the smallest existing free moving organisms, they have their own role to play.
Below are some reasons why the presence of bugs or insects is vital to the environment and why endangered insects must be saved.
Insects are Pollinators
Did you learn about pollination in biology at school? Pollination is an important part of plant development; it is how vegetative plants reproduce. We need these plants to reproduce and produce food because guess what? Plants are an important source of food for you and me. They’re an exclusive food source for some persons too.
Pollen is transported from one flower to another in order to facilitate fertilization. Insects such as bees, ladybirds and butterflies carry out this important task. They help transport pollen.
Source of Food
Are you familiar with the food chain? We’re all part of the food chain. Some animals feed on other animals. Don’t look at me. Didn’t you have steak for dinner last night? Likewise, insects are a source of food for other wildlife, including birds, hedgehogs, spiders, toad, frogs and moles. A decline in insect population means a shortage of food sources for these animals. Some insects feed on other insects, so they need each other to survive.
Natural Cleaners & Recyclers
Insects are like nature’s janitors. They help clean up the environment and recycle waste deposited by humans and other animals. In addition, they help with decomposition. Bodies, plants and other biodegradable waste generated in the environment are broken down by insects. What will we do without decomposition?
Insects feed on biological wastes and clean up the mess together with bacteria. If we are allowing these creatures to go extinct, we are ridding ourselves of natural cleaners.
Source of Fertilizer
Plants require an amount of nitrogen to develop properly. Insects are composed of this element of nitrogen. When insects die and decompose on the ground, they add some nitrogen to the soil which will benefit plants.
Sign of a Healthy Environment
An environment filled with bugs is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. On the other hand, when we observe that these insects and other wildlife keep dying and going extinct, it tells us that our planet isn’t doing so well.
What’s causing the Decline in Insect Population?
A recent study indicated bees, butterflies, and dung beetles have been most affected by this decline. About twenty years ago, a billion Monarch butterflies migrated to Mexico. However, the most recent count realized just 56.5 million.
Human lifestyle is to blame for this unfortunate event, including our agricultural policy provided by the government. Our lifestyle and farming methods have contributed to the decline of the insect population.
Our new farming methods have limited sources of food and places of habitation for insects. Over 90 per cent of flower meadows have been lost. Insects such as bees and butterflies feed on the nectar from these flowers. We used large plots of land for mono-cropping and rearing animals. These practices amongst others do not help maintain a healthy environment.
The use of pesticides has become so rampant in this time and age. Pesticides are harsh chemicals that harm probably already starving insects. Our forefathers didn’t have to use these methods and they still did great at farming.
Climatic factors also influence the insect population. An increase or decrease in temperature might make a habitat become uncomfortable for insects. This is quite detrimental as they already have limited options when it comes to habitation. If climate change rises as it has been predicted by scientists, things may get even worse for our tiny friends.
What Can We Do To Help Endangered Insects?
At the rate things are going, insects could suffer up to 50% loss within some decades. We have to do something to help our kids and the next generation.
There a few things you can do alongside our kids to help out and preserve endangered insects.
Learn About Insects
It is not uncommon for people to throw a fit once they get their eyes on an insect of any kind. Why not try to understand these little creatures instead of trying to murder them whenever you get the chance.
Some kids have a genuine fascination with bugs, but they may begin to emulate their parents’ action towards them. Why not learn about these insects with our kids? Look out for insects together and identify each of them using a guide.
If you’re up for it you can try drawing or painting these insects. I’m sure your kid would love it. Give them colourful crayons and cheer them on. Insect hunting can even be an activity you and your kids can bond over in the summer.
There are groups your kids can join where they’ll learn about different insects. It’ll provide them with an opportunity to learn about these organisms with other kids and also understand them better.
Build a Bug Home/Hotel
As you know, these little creatures have less and fewer options for habitat, thanks to our farming methods and urbanization. However, there’s still something we can do and kids are going to enjoy this.
Build a home or hotel for bugs. While the option of buying one exists, you can make one yourself with your kids.
Get together some dry flower stems, leaves and sticks. You can place this in our garden or a park close by. Insects will take up space there in just a few days.
You can create a log pile home for your little guests. Beetles, earwigs and woodlice favour locations with decomposing wood so you’ll get your woodpile filled with some bugs in a just a little while. Stone piles also work as well, ensure they cast dark shadows and retain moisture in the soil.
Drilling holes on logs can benefit wasps, bees and spiders.
Burrowing insects favour sandy regions. You can help out by digging down a few inches in a sunny area and filling with sand. Burrowing bugs will find their way down there; just don’t disturb them when they do.
Compost heaps can also prove useful for some insects. Gather biodegradable waste you procure and allow to decompose at a convenient location. It can be a source of heat for cold insects and eventually act as compost for your garden.
These are ways you and your kids can help create a habitat for bugs, so they don’t run out of options and keep declining in number.
Provide Food for Insects
The destruction of insect habitat also affects their food sources. Limited food means starvation and even death. If you have a garden, you can definitely help out by providing a source of food for hungry insects.
Native flowering, nectar-producing plants are a favourite for lots of insects. You have a variety of options. Find holly, hazel, daisy, rosemary, lavender, sallow blossom, wallflower, honeysuckles and hebe. Get hellebore, ivy, mahonia, snowdrops, and heather in the winter.
The ivy plant provides shelter for insects throughout the year and produces flowers during the winter and late autumn. You can create a little flower meadow together with your kids. This will attract butterflies, bees and other tiny creatures in the summer.
You can put some wildflower seeds in a pot and keep it on your balcony. Insects will visit the pot or basket of wildflowers. If you have younger kids, a flowering aster or lavender will be fine. Bees will come around before you know it.
Insects love dead-nettles, clover, daisies and dandelion. Allow them to grow on your lawn so they can serve as both food and shelter for insects.
Night flowers also exist and nocturnal insects such as moth enjoy feeding on them. Let our kids stay up on one nice evening so they can personally observe night insects feeding on flowers.
Insects need to be hydrated just like we do. You may find a bee or butterfly floating and struggling in a water butt or pond. The tiny creature just wanted to have a little drink and ended up getting stuck in there. Help the insect out and take to a safe corner where they can dry off.
Providing a simple watering hole for insect will go a long way to keep insects hydrated. Wildlife such as butterflies, frogs, hedgehogs, bees etc. will come to have a drink at the hole. Create a way of exit in the event that an animal falls in. A little ladder or some stones at the side will work just fine.
A pond may not be ideal especially if you have little kids running around. Instead, place a bowl or bucket into the ground on your lawn. Dig a bit, position the bowl or bucket and support with sand. Afterwards, fill the bowl with water.
Put in some stones and a water lily if you can. Ask your older kids to ensure the bucket is refilled and tell them to observe the insects that come around for a drink.
You can give them a diary so they can take notes immediately. A drawing pad for quick sketches will keep them really excited.
A bowl with some pebbles and water will look very inviting to bees; they can relax on the stones while taking a drink.
Avoid Using Pesticides
While there’s a particular pest in mind when using pesticides, know that they’ll affect other insects around as well.
Not using pesticides will make your garden or lawn more comfortable for insects to dwell in.
Natural predators will feast on insects such as greenfly, whitefly, snails and slugs. Lacewings and ladybirds feed on aphids. You can instruct our kids to transport ladybirds to aphid-infested places. They can do nudging the ladybird onto a stick or leaf.
If your garden has been greatly infested, use soapy water mix and rubber gloves to get them off your plants. You can get your kids to help, but I can’t guarantee they’ll enjoy it.
Be Part of a Local Wildlife Group
There are a number of free wildlife groups you can join locally. Their aim is to maintain a neat environment and also create comfortable habitats for wildlife.
Be a part of the change, not the problem, encourage your kids to join these groups as well. They’ll learn a lot about insects, their current situation and what can be done to help, involve in animal surveys and so on. Local wildlife groups are beneficial to the environment.
Play your Part for a Healthy Environment
Our insect population is under threat and we can’t just sit back and watch. Whenever you get the opportunity, support and push for environmental policies that’ll benefit the wildlife. Preserving wildlife, including endangered insects means maintaining a healthy environment for all living organisms.
Our kids and young ones will be in charge of the planet tomorrow, so it is important they learn just how important every living organism is on this planet. Instead of letting your kids spend all their free time in front of screens watching TV and playing video games, encourage them to get involved with beneficial activities outdoor. Teach them about bugs and how they can help prevent their decline. Let them play in the dirt and enjoy the fresh air.
 Bug hotel – Link