It's almost impossible not to notice cute colourful butterflies on green hillsides, fuzzy bees on trees and soldier ants around us. In fact, I wish I were a cute little butterfly or a firefly with it's luminous light. Arguably, bugs and insects are visibly and ever-present around us. They live with and among us.

Interestingly, we often say bugs are insects and vice versa. Well, they can be used interchangeably. However, insects are the umbrella name for creatures with which bugs are members. Generally, Insects are referred to as invertebrates because they do not possess backbones. They possess six legs, two wings, and a pair of antennae and their body is divided into three parts -- Head, Thorax and Abdomen.

Did you know that insects are the largest and most diverse animal groups on the planet with over 1 million species? They account for over 90% of biodiversity in the ecosystem and belong to various species, families, classes, orders etc. Thus, they can be found anywhere on planet earth -- on land, in fresh water and even in the oceans. Popular insects include bees, ants, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, dragonflies, fireflies, and crickets amongst others. 

Whether you refer to them as bugs or insects, they are undisputably significant in the ecosystem, particularly in ecological balance. LOL! Off the wall, right? This is why this is true. Let's take an interesting ride. Would ya? 

First off, remember that Biodiversity is about all life on earth; this makes all living things including insects and bugs important phenomena and their functionalities, are even more important. Hang on. 

You would say you hate insects, I almost would say the same as some are creepy, frightening and harmful. Worse still, their stings make us uncomfortable and petrified. Additionally, insects such as grasshoppers are dangerous to crops; they invade and destroy farmlands. Some others are disease carriers; these make it understandable when we disregard the ecological roles of insects. 

Despite this, insects play important roles in the ecosystem and chain of life. From serving as pollinators, and decomposers of organic matters to active actors in controlling pests in the ecosystem. They are simply beneficial. 

Ironically, good example are bees, which are known to sting, yet, produce honey which contains numerous health benefits. But here's the thing. Bees are generally quite aggressive, territorial and protective. Truth is, some insects just like us, are extra-conscious of their environment, especially to obstacles and threats. Therefore, it isn't enough to cast them away.

Do you now agree that insects and bugs are as necessary as other creatures to the environment and play crucial roles in sustaining our survival? I bet you do.

Sadly, urbanization and climate change have caused a huge decline in the insect population globally. For instance, The Windshield or Windscreen Phenomenon opines that the decline in insects is attributed to human actions such as the use of insecticides and pesticides, globalisation, land destruction etc. Learn more about the Windshield Phenomenon here

A 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows that there are over 300 endangered insect species. According to The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, due to insect biodiversity loss, and "global decline in the number of pollinators, there is not only a complete loss of fruit and seeds but a significant decrease in quantity and viability in fruits and a lower number of seeds."

Unfortunately, in conversations about biodiversity loss, insect biodiversity is often neglected and this is frightening considering the current challenges facing biodiversity.

Nonetheless, we must understand the importance of all lives on earth and learn to co-exist with them. This is important in combating biodiversity loss and preventing threats to biodiversity. This is why our next blog post will focus on why bugs and insects are important to the ecosystem. 

Remember, the more the Biodiversity, the more all lives on earth.

Nelson Oboh 

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