This beautiful Luna moth visited me for a couple nights in a row. A fairly large moth, Luna’s will produce 2 generations per year in my area. The adults emerge from their larva cocoons solely to mate, and only live about a week. A pity, given how beautiful they are.
There are many insects that are essential and exceedingly beneficial to mankind.
Many of you reading are familiar with the deaths of honey bees, read about colony collapse disorder here. All bees are part of our ecosystem, pollinating all kinds of fruits, vegetables and flowers as they buzz around collecting pollen as their own food for the hive. Without bees handling the pollination, many of the food crops we depend upon would disappear.
Another major pollinator are butterflies, who spread pollen as they search for nectar to drink. Who hasn’t stopped to watch a butterfly as it sits on a flower? It’s an instant stress reducer to watch a butterfly dance around the yard. Monarch butterflies have been on a downward spiral because of loss of habitat and milkweeds, which are the only plants the caterpillars eat. Butterflies also play another important role in the food chain of nature. They are a food source for other insects, birds, bats and small mammals. And that Luna Moth? a favorite of bats, and the “tails” of the Luna serve as a defense mechanism to distort and distract the radar of a bat, giving the Luna a chance to escape.
Insects are an important cog in all aspects of life. Besides pollination jobs, some insects work in the decomposition business – animals, wood, leaves and the like. The things that have died but need to be broken down. Otherwise we would see huge piles of vegetation and corpses that hang around a lot longer.
Some insects are the single food source for another species – many reptiles, birds, or amphibians eat insects as the majority of their diet. Still others, like ladybugs, hunt the parasitic insects that cause gardeners concern (dang aphids!) And in many parts of the world, insects may be a protein food source for humans.
The world of insects, especially beneficial insects, is quite varied, and largely unnoticed. So next time you are ready to slap, step on, or otherwise remove a bug, from the house why not
catch it and set it free outside again. You never know how important that little insect might be. It could be more beneficial than you realize to your homestead and farm.