Insects are invaluable to us humans.
The value of an insect
Insects pollinate plants are an important part of the food chain and are extremely valuable to science – and that is far from everything.
The insect population is steadily decreasing dramatically. We humans are taking away the natural habitat of insects by taking up more and more space as we grow. In addition, we kill the small animals with insect repellents and pollute the populations several times. More than 30% of the insect species in their population are already endangered. Nearly 5% are considered extinct. Nature conservation organisations counted 80% fewer insects in parts of Germany than they did about 30 years ago. Comparable developments can be found in Austria and Switzerland.
We must therefore work for reduced and more conscious insect control and create insect-friendly habitats.
INSECT RESPECT® means taking the question of the value of insects seriously and acting accordingly. We are the world’s first quality mark for ecologically balanced control. On products, the quality mark guarantees that a compensation area has been created to promote biodiversity.
More respect for insects!
It is high time to respect insects – precisely because we sometimes fight them. Not only did insects populate the earth millions of years before humans, they also perform many valuable functions. Edward Wilson, the renowned American entomologist, has calculated that without insects we could only survive for a few months.
10 Reasons to Respect Insects
Insects give nature more resilience. Only a multifaceted nature is also a resistant nature. As the most species-rich animal class, insects contribute significantly to biodiversity on our planet, because they keep the cycle of nutrition, digestion and decay in balance. Because they break down substances that are harmful to other living beings. And because they "inspire" flora and fauna to respond to the intelligence of insects with ever better strategies.
Insects keep the flora alive.
Not only the hardworking bees, but also mosquitoes, flies and many other insects contribute to the reproduction of the flora by pollination or semen transport. Up to 75% of our crops and up to 90% of all wild plants depend on insects. This achievement is worth money: experts estimate the economic benefits of pollination at 265 billion, just to give one example. euro per year.
Insects are an important part of the food chain.
Insects are important elements of the food chain: most birds, freshwater fish, reptiles and amphibians as well as various mammals depend on insects for their nutrition. For example, the swift (Apus apus) feeds on more than 500 insect species such as aphid, hymenoptera such as bees and ants, beetles, flies and spiders. Feeding breeding pairs collect more than 20,000 insects per day for their small animals. Many mammals also feed on insects, such as hedgehogs. Even in the water insects are invaluable sources for food: The food of freshwater fish consists up to 90% of insect larvae. Insects also eat insects, which the agriculture uses as pest control. Today, more than 50 insect species are specially bred and commercially marketed.
Insects ensure the world's food.
Around one third of all food is caused by insect pollination. Fruit plants, low-growing fruits and vegetables are unimaginable without insects. Without insects, even a cheeseburger would only be a bun, because cattle prefer to feed on forage plants pollinated by insects. And did you know that mosquitoes are the only pollinators of the cocoa tree, so that every chocolate also contains the work of insects? But that's not all: the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization sees insect consumption as a promising solution toward a more sustainable global diet.
Insects free us from "garbage".
Without insects, we would have a major hygiene problem. What happens, for example, to all the cow flats on our pastures? Insects that feed on feces take care of the mist heaps. They are called coprophagen. Some insects put their eggs directly into the feces and live there, others dig up to ten centimetres deep tunnels and move in with the faeces there. Scarabs even take it many meters away to eat it in peace and in protection from competitors.
Insects make our soil fertile.
Like earthworms, many insects are involved in the rearrangement, mixing and ventilation of the soil. This promotes the "breathing" of the soil and the root formation of the plants. By decomposing organic substances, insects also contribute directly to the formation of humus and to the fertility of the soil.
Insects are indispensable for textile production.
Without insects, we would be pretty naked. This does not only refer to the silk produced by an insect. Without the active participation of insects, the cotton plant would not be able to thrive. The same applies to leather goods, because the animals from whose skin we extract the leather depend on forage plants – and these in turn on the work of insects.
Insects produce chemicals.
Insects help the industry with chemical production: The lubricating skin of the mealybug and flour lice is used for wax production and lid insect lice provide resin. The scale louse Laccifer lacca is particularly well known. The "shellvar" obtained from it adheres to many surfaces, has good thermal plasticity and low sensitivity to many solvents and is biodegradable. Today, the product is used worldwide in many forms for insulating, densifying and sealing: electrical appliances, shoe creams, hair sprays, nail polishes, floor polishes, printing inks, etc.
Insects can heal and pollinate medicinal plants.
Most health-promoting plants cannot do without pollination by insects, such as valerian, lavender, balm, eucalyptus, chamomile, johannis herb and sage. The global market for medicinal plants has been growing at around ten percent for years and now stands at around 100 billion US dollars. Due to the appearance of multi-resistant germs for which medicine does not have a safe treatment, maggot therapy has become more important in recent years. Bee venom has also been successfully used in medicine against arthritis since 1930.
Insects are scientifically extremely valuable.
Moths can smell up to 100 times finer than we humans do, ants can carry multiples of their body weight, mosquitoes can easily defy the power of large raindrops and beetles orient themselves reliably without an electronic navigation system on the stars. Why do fireflies glow, how do springtails manage to be air-permeable and at the same time robust against friction, and how do ants live together peacefully in communities with up to 800,000 individuals? Insects are interesting animals, from which we can learn a lot.
Why every fly counts
Dr. Hans-Dietrich Reckhaus
The book sheds light on the ambivalent relationship between humans and insects: Do we find animals more useful or harmful? What place do they have in the world and what is their value for the diversity of species and ecosystems (biodiversity)? What are climate change and population development causing: will the number of insects increase or decrease?
Insect Decline – an Insect Die Off?
The Number of Insects is Decreasing!
Insects are the animal class with the most species on earth. They are by far not all discovered yet – but we know, that they are declining fast.
The number of insect species is estimated to be between two to ten million. Only one million is already scientifically described. In Germany, insects are declining heavily, as studies show. Over 30% of the insect species are endangered. Almost 5% are extinct. In parts of Germany, environmental organisations counted 80% less insects than 15 to 20 years ago. A similar development can be observed in Austria and Switzerland.
The world’s population grows and thus also the areas claimed by humans as their living space. Natural habitats are sealed, also the ones that served as biotopes for insects and other creatures.
The production of food also needs land. Industrial agriculture, for example, reduces biodiversity because pollinating insects can hardly find food in its monocultures. Also insecticides used for private and agricultural purpose contribute to the decline of insects. When we observe species extinction today, it is the result of our actions a few years ago, as it occurs with a delay. Because environmental pollution continues, insect numbers and species will probably continue to decline.
Download (pdf in German) with the most important studies, 5 pages
- Hallmann, C.; Sorg, M. et al.: More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. In: PLOS One, 18.10.2017. Verfügbar unter: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185809
- Sánchez-Bayo, F.; Wyckhuys, K. (2019): Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. In: Biological Conversation. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020 or Download as PDF
- Reichholf, J. (2017): Das Verschwinden der Schmetterlinge. Statusbericht – Preliminary information at: https://www.deutschewildtierstiftung.de/content/10-presse/1-pressemitteilungen/schmetterlinge_kurzfassung-studie_0717_final_2.pdf].
- Binot-Hafke, Margret & Sandra Balzer, Nadine Becker, Horst Gruttke, Heiko Haupt, Natalie Hofbauer, Gerhard Ludwig, Günter Matzke-Hajek & Melanie Strauch (Red.) (2011): Rote Liste gefährdeter Tiere, Pflanzen und Pilze Deutschlands. Band 3: Wirbellose Tiere (Teil 1). Landwirtschaftsverlag, Münster. Reihe: Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt 70 (3) des Bundesamtes für Naturschutz, Bonn-Bad Godesberg.
- HORST GRUTTKE, MARGRET BINOT-HAFKE, SANDRA BALZER, HEIKO HAUPT, NATALIE HOFBAUER, GERHARD LUDWIG, GÜNTER MATZKE-HAJEK & MELANIE RIES (Red.) (2016): Rote Liste gefährdeter Tiere, Pflanzen und Pilze Deutschlands. Band 4: Wirbellose Tiere (Teil 2). Landwirtschaftsverlag, Münster. Reihe: Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt 70 (4) des Bundesamtes für Naturschutz, Bonn-Bad Godesberg.
- NABU, 2016: Dramatisches Insektensterben – Rückgang um 80 Prozent in Teilen Deutschlands. Available at: https://www.nabu.de/news/2016/01/20033.html
- European Environment Agency (2013): The European Grassland Butterfly Indicator: 1990–2011. EEA Technical report No 11/2013. ISBN 978-92-9213-402-0; doi:10.2800/89760.
- Fred Grimm (2018): Digitaler Blümchensex (über den Einsatz von Bienen-Robotern mangels Honigbienen, Patent von Wal-Mart). In: Schrot & Korn 5/2018. Available at: https://schrotundkorn.de/lebenumwelt/lesen/kolumne-digitaler-bluemchensex.html
Save the Butterflies!
An expert lecture by Prof. Dr Josef H. Reichholf (2017)
Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers (2019)
The study by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G. Wyckhyus describes the drivers of the decline in the global insect population. It discusses in detail the four main causes of the decline in biodiversity:
1.) Habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture, and urbanisation,
2.) Pollution mainly from synthetic pesticides and fertilisers,
3.) Biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species, and
4.) Climate change.
Furthermore, it analyses how established courses of action need to be rethought in order to slow down or reverse the trend of species extinction.
Would you like to learn more about insects and INSECT RESPECT®? In our archive you will find various publications, lectures, videos and contributions to our commitment to insects.
We constantly collect terms around insects and insect control.