Insects: Inducers of Biological Order and Disorder In the Environment Help
Introduction to Insects
Since there are more species of insects than all other types of animals combined, a convincing argument can be made that insects (not human beings) are the real “monarchs” (rulers) of this planet! Because of their sheer numbers, then, the World of Insects exerts a critical influence upon both Biological Order, and Biological Disorder, within the ecosystem of the external environment. Insects are important biological inducers (in- DEW -surs) – “leaders into” various states of environmental change.
Busy Pollinators Of Flowers
Various insects visit flowers to feed upon their nectar ( NEK -tar). Nectar is named for the “drink of the gods” in Greek and Roman mythology. The connection is probably the fact that nectar is sweet and filled with highly nutritious plant sugars. And busy bees gather this sweet nectar and transform it into an even-sweeter honey. Bees and butterflies visit flowers and feed on their nectar during the day, while moths show up at night.
During day-or-night visitations, these insects help induce pollination. You may recall (Chapter 9) that pollination is the process of spreading pollen grains from male plants to female plants, so the females can be fertilized. Without insect-induced pollination, many green plants would eventually die, and with it, most photosynthesis occurring on the Earth. Therefore, insect-induced pollination of flowering plants is a critical factor in the Web of Life.
The Menacing Swarms
Just as some insects are busy inducers of pollination and promoters of Biological Order, others attack human crops in menacing swarms . A swarm is a large group of related insects that fly or move together. Communication among insects in the swarm may be highly orderly and efficient, allowing the huge group to carry out important tasks. A swarm of bees, for instance, may move as a group of thousands from a damaged hive to a safer area, and build another hive. The new geographic area with the hive will benefit from an increased pollination of its flowers.
But a swarm of locusts ( LOW -kusts) is quite another matter! A locust is a type of grasshopper with short antennae. Due to their amazing powers of rapid reproduction, swarms of locusts can darken the sky as they fly. Wherever they land as a group of billions, whole tracts of fields and forests are quickly stripped of their leaves. The entire ecosystem in a particular area can be effectively destroyed, depriving the region of the benefits of life-giving photosynthesis. Since the days of Ancient Egypt, farmers have been faced with the difficult task of repairing the devastation of Biological Disorder wreaked by insect swarms.
Practice problems for these concepts can be found at: Arthropod Test
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