What is the best ecosystem with insects

Insect dieback: what if ... This is what the world looks like without insects

Without the insects, everything collapses: their role in the ecosystem is so important that without them it doesn't just go quiet. It's also starting to stink - and food is getting more expensive.

1. Carrion and feces everywhere

Insects are the health police for dead biomass. Even if we are disgusted by the sight of flies - and later maggots - on corpses, insects help rid the world of carcasses by simply eating them up. Thus, insects use the nutrients and energy sources contained in carrion effectively. One example is the gravedigger - and the beetle lives up to its name: a single male can pull a dead mouse completely underground within hours. In this way, the carcass can serve the gravedigger's larvae - a good supply of food.

Social Video: This is what the world looks like without insects!


In addition, so-called coprophages help us to free the world more quickly from a substance that, literally, is sometimes up to our necks: Sch ... Many types of flies are, for example, recyclers of cow dung and other excrement, or the dung beetle. Every day it eats about as much manure as it weighs! The pill-turner also feeds mainly on feces. Its name says it all: the beetle turns the food into "bite-sized" balls with its front legs and then rolls it up to nine meters over hill and dale with its long hind legs. The pill turner can transport more than ten times its body weight.

Conclusion: Without insects the world would stink pretty bad!

2. No insects? No birds!

Insect death also always means: bird death. Because they are an important part of the diet for the majority of our domestic birds. And even for the so-called grain-eaters, who also feed their young with insects. 60 percent of all bird species depend on insects. Andreas Segerer, insect expert at the Zoological State Collection in Munich, reports that around 50 percent of field birds have been lost in Bavaria alone and sees a direct connection to the death of insects. If the insects are missing, not only do the humming and humming of wild bees, beetles and crickets stop, but also the chirping of birds.

Conclusion: the world would be pretty quiet without insects.

3. Insects are important pollinators

Most plants reproduce sexually, so egg and sperm cells are fertilized. In this process, the pollen grains are the male gametes, so to speak, the sperm of the plants! Only with wind pollination does the pollen move to its destination - to the flower of a related plant in order to fertilize it and thus form fertile seeds.

But around 78 percent of flowering plant species in temperate latitudes and even around 90 percent worldwide are dependent on pollination by insects, so: The insects carry the pollen from flower to flower and distribute it to the female part of the flower - and it comes to Fertilization. Some bats and birds also carry the pollen from flower to flower, but by far the greatest pollination performance is with insects such as wild bees and honeybees, butterflies, flies, wasps, beetles, etc.

In agriculture, two thirds of all crops are dependent on being approached by insects. These types include, for example, apples, strawberries, almonds and melon plants. The SWR science magazine odysso carried out a pollination experiment in 2018 and tested how the apple harvest turns out without insects. The result: 30 percent fewer apples. The wind did bring something, but the insects are more effective and the fruits were of better quality. In China, hand pollination by cheap labor is already used, because the considerable use of pesticides killed almost all insects.

In countries like Germany, with the resulting wage costs, that would be a financial disaster. A study puts the economic benefit from pollinators in 2005 at over 150 billion euros. The damage caused by the lack of insects would be between 190 and 310 billion euros per year.

Conclusion: Without insects, fruit and vegetables would be significantly more expensive - and probably of poorer quality!

Sarah Weiss for SWR Wissen

Status: 7.5.2019, 10.55 a.m.