With reference to the very topical “Don’t let the buzz die” (October 29), the contribution of insects to human survival has long been recognised. Insects are the lynchpins of many ecosystems. After bacteria, they constitute the second largest species. Insects play a vital role in pollination and make it possible for us to eat many types of fruits, vegetables and food. Our major food crops require pollinators and insects play a crucial role in this. Since India is a tropical country, the value of insects pollinating our crops will be far higher. Approximately 60 per cent of birds rely on insects for food, 80 per cent of wild plants for pollination. Insects—including wasps, flies, beetles, and butterflies—fertilise many of the 100 crops that provide 90 per cent of food supplies. They provide a free service estimated at $153 billion a year to the world economy.
If they disappear, ecosystems will disintegrate. Many are pollinators and they ensure the transfer of pollen in or between plants so they reproduce. Others are prey for a variety of wildlife or are predators of others. Some are decomposers of organic matter. We do not know what the tipping point is but when we do reach that phase and not in the distant future when numbers decline plants will go un-pollinated and die fruitless. The UN, in a report last year, said declines have been detected in various parts of the world and that possible causes include habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, invasive species, pathogens and climate change. It stressed the importance of protecting pollinators to ensure stable fruit and vegetable output, amid concerns over the challenge of feeding a growing population in future.H N Ramakrishna, Bengaluru
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