Author: Jiayi Chen
Editors: Galiba Anjum and Tharindi Jayatilake
Artist: Uzouf Baagil
Insects, small creatures that started evolving and adapting to the environment millions of years ago, have become extremely vital for our ecosystem. Nowadays, there are over a million types of insects that have already been discovered by scientists, but all of their functions are related to maintaining the homeostasis of the environment. However, since there are various types of insects in existence, this article will dive into general functions rather than functions specific to certain species.
One of the most important roles that insects have is to act as consumers or recyclers. As recyclers, their main goal is to break down the natural wastes that are produced by humans, plants, and animals. For instance, the article Insects in Our Ecosystem, by Abby Henkel discusses how wood ants are a vital part of a forest in Indiana and what can happen if the wood ants do not exist. If the wood ant is not in the forest, the herds in the forest will grow without a limitation due to lack of predator. Next, more herds decoy into soil, providing more nutrients for the bacterias that will skyrock the bacteria population. Once this happens, the process of decomposition in the forests will become a lot faster, and the forest will be off-balance because the extra carbon and nitrogen gas is released into the atmosphere.
The second function of insects is to act as a helper towards plants, letting them flourish in the environment. But specifically, how do insects help plants? In the article, What Is The Importance Of Insects In The Ecosystem? by Benjamin Elisha Sawe, insects help plants with pollination and seed dispersal. For instance, plants like Maple, Cherry, Hawthorne, Buckthorn, Lime, and Rowan Berry put a huge amount of energy to form flowers with attractive nectar to attract insects for pollination purposes. Bees, specifically, are the most important pollinators in our ecosystems.
They usually help flowers transfer pollen by picking up pollen by using the hair on their abdomens and legs, and then land on another flower. Most of the plants won't be able to thrive without bees, and a lot of food we eat would just disappear after the plants are extinct. Now back to the wood ants again, the way insects help plants to disperse seeds also applies to most ants, including the wood ant. In Indiana, there is a plant called Trillium, which is a woodland plant that has a little fleshy matter attached to seeds. The wood ants will collect these seeds for food storage and unintentionally plant the seeds. During this process, the ants get the food and the Trilliums get to prosper.
In conclusion, there are millions of types of insects that play many roles including the roles of consumer, carrier, and producer (insects fed on each other). They are an essential part of our ecosystem and community.
Breda. “5 Reasons Bugs Are Important To Humans.” Breda Pest Management, 5 June 2016,
Henkel, Abby. “Insects in Our Ecosystem.” Sycamore Land Trust, Sycamore Land Trust, 2020,
Playfair, Richard, and Steve Foster. “How Do Bees Transfer Pollen Between Flowers?”
School Of Bees, School Of Bees, 5 July 2019, schoolofbees.com/how-do-bees-transfer-
Sawe, Benjamin Elisha. “What Is The Importance Of Insects In The Ecosystem?” WorldAtlas,
WorldAtlas, 8 Dec. 2019, www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-the-importance-of-i