The little things that run the world

The Royal Entomological society is presenting its biennial insect week starting from June 20th - June 26th 2022. With past insect weeks endorsed by The Prince of Wales, it is clear to see that insects are continuing to play a vital role in both our lives and ecosystems than ever before.


To mark the start of a week of entomological events and education, the Royal Entomological Society President, Professor Helen Roy MBE said “Insects may be small, but they have a huge impact on people and nature. Insect science enriches our understanding and is fundamental to modern science. There are a wide range of activities offered during Insect Week by local and national organisations. Children and adults alike can immerse themselves in the wonderful world of insects and meet the people who study that world. This year, we will be exploring how people feel about insects and how that affects their conservation study around the world.”


With insects playing a pivotal role within our world, it is crucial that habitats remain diverse in order to house the variety of different insect species as “aside from their role as food, insects perform a plethora of other vital services in ecosystems. For example, 87% of all plant species require animal pollination, most of it delivered by insects….approximately three-quarters of the crop types we grow also require pollination by insects, and if the bulk of plant species could no longer set seed and died out, then every community on land would be profoundly altered and impoverished, given that plants are the basis of every food chain.


Statistically, “there are more than 24,000 species in the UK alone and we can find insects in almost every habitat. They can be pollinators, predators, pests, parasites and prey and their study is an important part of conservation, food production, medicine and ecology.” With insects being the key players within our world in terms of pollination and being the pillars of our food chain ecosystem, there is no doubt that we need to keep on maintaining their world in order for them to maintain ours as “according to the 2019 State of Nature report, 41 per cent of UK species studied have declined and 133 species have already been lost since 1970.”. Yet, despite the decline caused by the chaining world, it is important to understand that the smallest of steps can make the biggest impact. Andrew Salisbury, principal entomologist at the RHS said “The power of a garden lies in its very smallest inhabitants. Gardeners who look after them will have the greatest positive impact for biodiversity.”


To understand the outlook of insects, HOP spoke exclusively to Dr Christopher Bear on his latest project which looks at children's perception of the environment and how it translates to their everyday life. Dr Bear told HOP, “in this project, we’re interested in how young people's (primary age) understanding of environmental issues translate into how they think about the food that they eat, see and talk about or are offered because recently, we have become increasingly aware on how concerned the younger generation are with environmental issues partly of what they’re taught in school and also the external influences of what they see on TV, magazines and social media….There has been a lot written about environmental and climate anxiety in young children over the past few years. The environment can sometimes be an abstract thing to think about, rather than something you can connect to in your everyday life.”


Environmentally, it is clear that insects form an intricate dance with almost every living thing within our ecosystem, be that humans, plants and animals. Their existence is underpinned by our world and it is crucial that we maintain their world and educate ourselves on the importance of their existence. It is through research and events like that of insect week that we can grasp the importance of all small and mighty insects within our world.







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