Many people would be glad to see bugs disappear off the face of the earth. Most can agree that some insects can be very bothersome; insects often intrude humans’ homes or give them a fright outside. In a survey given to the students at Valencia High School, 89% of the 50 people questioned claimed that they would like insects to become extinct, with the number one reason being that they are irritating. In addition, some insects cause major problems, such as the mosquito, which transmits fatal diseases, causing over a million deaths a year. However, if these bugs vanished, the world may end up in a much bigger predicament.
Messing with the food chain of an ecosystem is not a smart move. If something is changed, organisms may not be able to adapt. This can cause a lack of resources which other animals may need to survive. The absence of mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other insects that may be considered “annoying”, can cause their predators to lose their food source, ultimately leading to starvation if there is no other substitute. If these animals struggle to survive, so will their predators. This domino effect would cause endangerment for the entire food chain, and in the worst case scenario, extinction for all.
Not only would wild ecosystems start to fail, but humans would lose many of their food options. Insects, especially bees, are the number one pollinators of crops, which produce many human foods. Bees are also responsible of making honey. As Science Insider puts it, “A world without insects means a world with empty grocery store shelves.”
Certain insects also play a major role in recycling and fertilizing the soil. The dung beetle is responsible for managing waste. In 1788, cattle were brought to Australia by the British. Cows are known to excrete a large amount of waste, and there were no dung beetles to break it down in Australia. By 1960, the cattle feces covered 500,000 acres of pasture, which prevented plants from growing, due to the excess nitrogen. If dung beetles went extinct worldwide, it would cause a significant crisis.
Most decomposers are insects, and with all of them gone, things would be much worse. Dermestids, a type of beetle that feeds on animal carcasses, as well as other decomposing insects, take a large part in breaking down dead organisms. Non-insect decomposers alone would not be enough.
Bugs have a huge job in today’s world, and many people, unfortunately, do not realize their importance. Although insects can sometimes be seen as pests, humans literally cannot live without them. People always need to remember to think twice and get both sides of the story.
Jasmine Jhun, Grade 9
Valencia High School