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The Role Of Insects In The Web Of Life

3117 words - 12 pages

When given the question “what good are bugs?” many people have nothing positive to say, as they only remember the bad things that bugs do; bees and wasps sting, ants get into homes, and spider webs are an eye sore. However, people tend to forget that bugs can do so many good things for the environments they live in. This includes pollinating flowers and other plants, decomposing plant debris and animals, helping control pest insect populations, and so much more. A constant lesson that has to be reinforced everyday so that everyone understands that not all bugs are bad and that many bugs do more than thought. When Gilbert Waldbauer was asked the same question of “what good are bugs?” he wrote a book to give his greatest answer and named the book What Good are Bugs? – Insects in the Web of Life. Within his book he covered four main areas: helping plants, helping animals, limiting population growth, and cleaning up. Within these four main areas there are twelve different topics; all of which cover a broad spectrum of the way bugs provide good. Of the topics Waldbauer covered the most important ways that bugs provide good to varying environments is by helping plants and flowers through pollination and seed dispersal.
Today pollination is a common everyday occurrence and no one thinks twice about how and why it happens. However, two centuries back very little people understood insect pollination because the showy flower petals were said to be the Creator’s way of pleasing his people (Waldbauer, 2003). It was not until 1793 that Conrad Sprengel first explained that the colorful flowers are the means of attracting insects for pollination (Waldbauer, 2003). Sprengel’s understanding of insect pollination came from his own understanding of reproduction in flowers and the mechanisms of cross-pollination (Waldbauer, 2003). About 90 years later, we were provided greater understanding of Sprengel’s research when Herman Müller summarized the steps that led Sprengel to his discovery (Waldbauer, 2003). Although much of the understanding of pollination comes from the structure and reproduction of plants, it is important to understand the insects. The insects that are known pollinators belong to four specific groups including bees and wasps, flies, moths and butterflies, and beetles; of which include about 200,000 species that can pollinate flowers (Waldbauer, 2003). The list of 200,000 species of insects that can pollinate include the sphinx moth, the hawk moth, the syrphid fly, the bee fly, the sulphur butterfly, the swallowtail butterfly, and of course the honey bee (McLaughlin, 2010). Although there are many species of insect pollinators, all of the insects take part in one of two types of pollination. Insects are an important factor in cross-pollination, the same type of pollination that was first explained in 1793 by Sprengel.
Cross-pollination is when pollen is transferred from one flower to another by some type of agent (Triplehorn and Johnson, 2005)....

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