What Good Are Bugs?

Feb 27, 2015

(CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Tim Pierce

"I realize that many people do not like insects. The fourth graders are almost always exuberant, though, and when it comes to nature, there are no "ewwww"s in my class! Still, I do like to give a nod to the fact that bugs are not always appreciated. There are excellent reasons for this, reasons the kids can usually figure out: mosquitoes bite; wasps sting; beetles can eat corn, fruit and potatoes; bark beetles can kill many trees and destroy forests; insects sometimes carry diseases, which can infect people and livestock; termites can eat our homes. No wonder the killing off of insects is a thriving business around the world.

But wait! Let's not kill them all, and let's be very careful about which of our six-legged neighbors we do kill. If we are not careful, we'll destroy irreplaceable services that insects provide us for free."

(Broadcast: "Fieldnotes," 3/1/15. Listen weekly on the radio, Sundays at 12:55 p.m., or via podcast.)