I’m convinced that education is really key to help develop a balanced perspective regarding invertebrates, and their roles in the eco-system.
Invertebrates are often thought of as mostly falling into the 'pest' category, but research shows this is not the case.
Most invertebrates have a very low profile, and with
the exception of a few beneficial species and a few ‘pests’, many are prone
to mis-identification, or their role is not understood.
Despite the high profile of honey bees, only 12% of UK adults were able to correctly identify them in a recent Friends Of The Earth Survey - so what hope do the majority of beneficial insects have?
There are some solitary bees such as Heriades truncorum that are so tiny, they could be mistaken for little black flies!
I think we need to become more familiar with species: from bees, beetles, flies, butterflies and many other creatures and the roles they play.
Most invertebrate species are beneficial or harmless, but each year they destroy between 10 and 15 percent of the World’s agricultural produce. Source - The British Natural History Museum.
humans waste one third of food produced, globally every year – mostly in the
Source: UN Report http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf
So why are we worrying about 10 - 15% of food crops, when we are wasting a third?
And which is of greater detriment to the environment, a few plant nibbling beetles, or the thousands of toxic product polluting the environment every year?
To put it another way, there are over 1 million insect species in the world
So, based on our figures for 1000 agricultural pest species, we could therefore, estimate that 999 species out of every 1000 is
beneficial or harmless, and only 1 is a pest.
The retail value of what they pollinate was valued closer to £1bn.
(Source: The Economic Value Of Honey Bees: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8015136.stm).
From hoverflies, butterflies, lacewings, and ladybirds to earthworms
and various beetles and ‘low profile’
invertebrates – all not quantified, since none of those species ever sent a
farmer or gardener a bill!
Research shows that farmers were treating for pollen beetle unnecessarily. This is not only bad for the environment, it's expense for farmers.
Further more, if retailers, farmers and the public had a more balanced and better understanding of the contribution of invertebrates, they may be more motivated to find environmentally methods of gardening and farming, and more likely to accept ‘imperfect’ fruit and vegetables.
A 30 year study by the Rodale Institute showed that ultimately, organic farming methods match production of intensive, environmentally destructive methods of farming, and exceed it in some climate conditions.
How many farmers would be aware of this research, I wonder?