By Sarah Harr
Insects aren’t the most pleasant creatures.
Unless it’s a “pretty” bug like a butterfly, dragonfly, or ladybug, people tend to shriek in fear or look down in disgust at these little critters. They’re offered no sympathy. They’re ignored. Feared. Hated. Killed. This list is dedicated to the insects that get a bad rap:
Mosquitoes– Honestly, I found it hard to come up with anything beneficial about these disease-carrying nuisances. But despite being an annoyance, mosquitoes do hold the honorable position of residing at the bottom of the food chain. If mosquitoes were completely wiped out, then so would its predators, and practically every other species following it could be dead within months, including humans. With that in mind, I think I can handle a couple of bug bites.
Roaches– The sight of a roach sends people flying for the insecticide. But why? Unlike the above insect, a roach is not likely to hurt you; the only “scary” thing they do is flock towards filthy areas. So, clean your room! But in all seriousness, roaches play a significant part in the circle of life. Though they stand next to mosquitoes on the food chain, they’re not the lowest of the low. They eat decaying material, such as dead animals, which contain a lot of nitrogen. Through a process known as the nitrogen cycle, they “expel” the built-up nitrogen that they eat and fertilize the land. You may look down upon roaches, but their extinction would lead to a collapse in lush land and forests.
Ants– There’s a reason ants are called the workers of the ecosystem. When they’re not invading your picnic or rummaging through your cabinets, these little guys march one by one to keep the Earth running smoothly. They aerate the soil like earthworms, and spread seeds all across the country. They are Mother Nature’s clean-up crew, preying upon dead animals and some herbivorous insects that destroy the environment, like aphids. They may be low on the food chain, but these little guys are deserve a standing ovation for all the work they do.
Wasps– Wasps are scary. They come in spades, building colony upon colony in the corner of your home; those stingers aren’t just for show. However, even these menaces play a crucial role to the ecosystem. Like bees, they are pollinators. The also eat various insects, including herbivorous crop-eaters like aphids and caterpillars. So the next time you look outside to admire your safe, well-pollinated lawn, thank wasps. Though I wouldn’t recommend thanking them in person, especially if you have a wasp allergy. Or any sense.
Spiders- Yes, I know that spiders aren’t technically insects, yet, I found that this arachnid gets the worst rap of all. Spiders are not out to get you; in fact, only two spiders in North America are truly harmful (the black widow and brown recluse). Many spiders are actually here to help. Take the common house spider that you probably killed last week. If left alone, that spider could have eaten the majority of your household pests, such as gnats, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. But not you. In reality, a spider’s not even likely to bite you unprovoked.
We may not like insects, but there’s no denying that they each play a vital role in the ecosystem. So think again before you decide to smash one under your shoe.