CO-Horts Blog

Monday, May 6, 2019

Most Insects are Beneficial!

Posted by Abi Saeed, Garfield County Extension

Did you know that 99% of all insects are either harmless or benefit us in some way?

Beneficial insects fall into 3 main categories:
  • Predators / Parasitoids: Insects that feed on other "critters" providing an important source of pest control in nature. This group is responsible for keeping pest populations balanced, otherwise herbivorous insects could easily deplete our flora.
This Robber Fly (Family: Asilidae) is an excellent aerial predator!
(Photo: Abi Saeed)

  • Pollinators: Insects that provide the vital service of pollination, by moving pollen from the male to the female part of flowering plants. 1/3 of all the food we eat depends on pollinators (including almonds, berries, apples, squash, and even chocolate!).
Bees, like this Honey Bee (Family: Apidae) are the most efficient
pollinators on the planet, in-part because of their anatomy:
They are covered with tiny branched hairs throughout their body
making them extremely efficient at transporting pollen!
(Photo: Abi Saeed)

  • Scavengers / Decomposers: Insects that feed on dead animals, decaying living matter and waste, assisting in the breakdown of organic matter, and returning nutrients to the soil. Without them: waste would pile up, nutrients would not recycle, and life as we know it would cease to exist!
Carrion Beetles  (Family: Silphidae) such as this one
feed on decaying animals (as their name suggests).
(Photo: Abi Saeed)

Without these vital services, the planet would be a completely different place than what we see today!

Pests actually only make up 1% of insects, so it is always a good idea to identify the critter you are looking at, before you decide to get rid of it! Insect identification services are often available through your local Extension Office, or through Ask an Expert: where you can upload photos and ask questions about insects, plants, soils, and more! 

For more information:

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