Updated: Jul 10, 2022
You may be shocked at how much you use insect products in your everyday lives.
Insects give immense human advantages, not just as scientifically interesting specimens, but also in terms of the services and goods they supply. Human interactions with insects encompass a wide range of applications, including food, textiles, and dyestuffs, as well as major attempts to eradicate pests. Let us take an in-depth look at some of the interesting ways that humans are using insects.
1. To Make Useful Products
Honey is made and stored by bees in their hive's comb. When flowers are not blooming, it is utilised for food. Beekeepers collect surplus honey from hives, separate it from the comb, and sell it in bottles. Honey is used in our everyday products as a natural sweetener, to treat coughs and even wound healing.
Another product that is made from insects is silk. Silk comes from the silkworm and is a natural protein fiber. It is a lustrous, smooth, and soft material that has been employed in the creation of exquisite garments. Another product is shellac. Lac scales feed on tree sap and emit a sticky material that is scraped from trees and processed into powder once dry. Shellac is made by dissolving the powder in ethyl alcohol when it is ready to use. Shellac has a wide range of applications, although it is best known for its usage as a wood finish.
2. For Medicine
Insects and their products have been utilised medically by humans throughout history. Insects have been used to treat a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiac, neuromuscular, and viral disorders whether ingested, injected, or treated topically. Therapeutic insects are still given nowadays all over the world.
Medicinal maggots and honeybee venom therapy are two insect-based remedies that are often administered. Honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom, beeswax, and honey are all utilised therapeutically in honey venom therapy. The positive benefits of maggots on the healing of infected wounds have been known since the Mayans, and maybe even earlier.
3. For Food
Insects are used as a key source of protein in several human communities. Various African cultures eat locusts (really grasshoppers) regularly. Individual locusts are collected early in the day before they become active and then boiled before being cleaned and salted.
We may find the habit of eating insects, known as entomophagy, repulsive, yet insects have been used as a food source for humans for tens of thousands of years. Although entomophagy is relatively uncommon in most nations, it is still practiced in portions of Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Beetles, cockroaches, caterpillars, bees, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and other insects are among the many insects used for food.
Eating insects also has tremendous environmental benefits. Insects have a much smaller environmental footprint as compared to red meat. Producing 1 kilograms of protein from crickets causes emissions of as little as 1 gram of CO2. Producing 1 kilograms of protein from beef emits 2.850 gram of CO2. Furthermore, farming insects require low water consumption as compared to rearing cattle. To produce 1 kilograms of protein from insects requires 5 litres of water, compared to approx. 15.500 litres is needed to produce 1 kilograms of protein from beef.
4. As Pest and Weed Control
Almost every pest (weed or bug) has natural enemies that help to control its proliferation in specific situations. The activity of other insects is the most essential component in keeping the numbers of many problem insects under check.
Phytophagous insects, which eat on plants and operate as biocontrol agents by damaging or restricting plant development, and entomophilous insects, which feed on other insects and keep pest populations in check, are the two types of insects employed for biological control. Some insects are predators, and this helps to control the population. For example, Ladybugs have a ravenous appetite for aphids, which are plant-eating insects.
5. Insects for Fertiliser
Insects in our garden produce insect poop, also known as Insect Frass. The completely organic material offers a good dose of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus for soil, with a bonus of chitin, which can be converted to Chitosan.
These elements are essential to begin your vegetable garden and for your flowering plants. Furthermore, Chitosan benefits our plants greatly when used in fertiliser. It can trigger the immune systems of plants by producing antimicrobial peptides that make mineral nutrients inaccessible to pathogens to defend against predators like root-feeding nematodes and pathogenic mycotoxins that cause the detested root rot. The presence of chitin triggers plants to think that insects are eating them, which causes them to build up their cell walls and release natural insect toxins as a defence.
Insects have crawled the earth for thousands of years. They are important because of their diversity, ecological role, and influence on agriculture, human health, and natural resources. We hope this article gives you a newfound appreciation for these buggers.