Introduction

This final chapter will focus on those insects that humans describe, in their economically minded way, as beneficial or harmful, though it should be appreciated from the outset that these constitute only a very small fraction of the total number of species. It must also be realized that the ecological principles governing the interactions between insects and humans are no different from those between insects and any other living species, even though humans with their modern technology can modify considerably the nature of these interactions.

Of an estimated 5-10 million species of insects, probably not more than a fraction of 1% interact, directly or indirectly, with humans. Perhaps some 10,000 constitute pests that, either alone or in conjunction with microorganisms, cause significant damage or death to humans, agricultural or forest products, and manufactured goods. Worldwide food and fiber losses caused by pests (principally insects, plant pathogens, weeds, and birds) are generally estimated at about 40%, of which 12% are attributable to insects and mites. These figures do not include postharvest losses, estimated to be about 20%, and occur despite the application of about 3 million tonnes of pesticide (worth more than US$31 billion, including about US$9 billion of insecticide) (Pimentel, 2002). In the United States alone, crop losses related to insect damage rose from 7% to 13% in the period 1945-1989, despite a tenfold increase in the amount of insecticide used (>120,000 tonnes each year) (Pimentel et al., 1992).

On the other hand, the value ofbenefits derived from insects is severalfold that oflosses as a result of their pollinating activity, their role in biological control, and their importance as honey, silk, and wax producers. That insects do more good than harm probably would come as a surprise to laypersons whose familiarity with insects is normally limited to mosquitoes, houseflies, cockroaches, various garden pests, etc., and to farmers who must protect their livestock and crops against a variety of pests. If asked to prepare a list of useful insects, many people most likely would not get further than the honey bee and, perhaps, the silkmoth, and would entirely overlook the enormous number of species that act as pollinating agents or prey on harmful insects that might otherwise reach pest proportions.

Humans have long recognized the importance of insects in their well-being. Insects and/or their products have been eaten by humans for thousands of years. Production of silk from silkmoth pupae has been carried out for almost 5000 years. Locust swarms, which

Beekeeping for Beginners

Beekeeping for Beginners

The information in this book is useful to anyone wanting to start beekeeping as a hobby or a business. It was written for beginners. Those who have never looked into beekeeping, may not understand the meaning of the terminology used by people in the industry. We have tried to overcome the problem by giving explanations. We want you to be able to use this book as a guide in to beekeeping.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment