AGRICULTURE NEWS – The estimated 2,5 million to 10 million species of insects on the planet have a profound impact, directly and indirectly, on all other creatures and on the environment.
This stands to reason; there are an estimated 10 quintillion (or 10 billion) individuals, and they represent 80% of all living organisms on earth.
They are also the most diverse group of organisms.
“Slightly more than one million insect species have actually been named, and only a small proportion of them have been properly studied,” says Hannelene Badenhorst, a PhD candidate in entomology at the University of the Free State.
“They are responsible for pollinating about 85% of the world’s flowering plants.
“Non-insect arthropods, such as spiders, also have a significant environmental role. Some aid in predating on pests and by promoting the decomposition of organic matter, while others are pests themselves.” (Insects comprise 90% of all arthropod species.)
Although insects are the main consumers of plants, including crops, fewer than 1% of the known insect species are considered pests by humans, explains Badenhorst. Of these, only a few hundred species have proved to be constantly problematic.
All the other insects and arthropods are beneficial to humans and the environment, providing a diverse range of key ecosystem services between them.