Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Insects Matter

Insects Matter

Runner-Up Year 5/6

Joseph Solina

Year 6, John Purchase Public School


What matters to me is how many insects are dying and becoming extinct. Over the last forty years, there has been a dramatic decrease in insects all over the world.  Many insect species have decreased to nearly fifty percent of their original population!

Out of 1 225 insect species recorded, around 600 species are at risk of extinction! An estimate of all the species of insects that still exist is 3.4 million. Can you believe that?  Only 3.4 million!  Fifty-two percent of the world's beautiful bugs are in danger - we need to act fast!  I love to spend time watching all the insects that live in my backyard.  When I was younger, I used to see many more types of interesting insects carrying on with their daily business and I want this to continue for future generations.  This is why insects matter to me. 

Imagine your favourite bug or butterfly disappearing in your lifetime because of what humans have done? That would be one of the worst things that could happen to humanity.  The Pulitzer Prize winning American biologist, E. O. Wilson has said that, “If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”.  If insects were to vanish then a chain reaction would occur in the world's food chain. This would be a catastrophic compounding crash to the world's ecosystem. For example, if there were no insects, then animals such as lizards that mainly eat insects would also become extinct.  Many birds would then be next in the line of death because they would not have either insects or lizards to consume.  Eventually, the road to extinction would lead to us, humans.

Insects are also important as they are a spiritual symbol in some cultures or religions. In the Brazilian Amazon, the Tupi-Guarani community use the Pachycondyla Ant in female coming of age ceremonies.  In Ancient Egypt for example, a scarab beetle was considered sacred.  If these species were to  die off, these people might have questioned the foundations of their world.

We have to care for insects, because they care for us.  Even though some are harmful, many benefit the global ecosystem, such as the humble dung beetle. This beetle buries “dung” or consumes it. If we did not have the help of this valuable insect, the ground would be covered in faeces! Dung beetles also aerate soil to help plants grow.  If we brutally destroy extremely helpful insects like dung beetles, we will definitely suffer greatly because of this!

We need to think about our actions now!  You might ask “how are we killing insects”? One of the major causes is deforestation. Globally, we need to care for insects by not contributing to further deforestation and using organic methods of farming (meaning no pesticides used). You can help by using only recycled paper products and even by planting a tree or shrub. Trees and shrubs are a perfect habitat for insects because they provide shelter, camouflage and also can be a food source.

How can we care for insects? Another way would be to not kill bugs when they in our houses, even though they might' bug' you a little.  You can get insects out by trapping them, and then releasing them into the wild. Some economic ways to help are by donating to conservationists like https://www.buglife.org.uk/, or other conservation organisations.

I hope you now care about insects as much as I do.  We can all help conserve insects globally by donating, battling deforestation and organic farming.