Updated: 9th February 2021
Why are invertebrates important?
Basically, invertebrates (animals without backbones) are unsung heroes of the eco system. Yet, when people think of invertebrates, they often think of garden ‘pests’, or agricultural ‘pests’ which eat crops and flowers.
However, invertebrates are very important, and the ‘pests’ receive a disproportionate amount of attention, considering
that the vast majority of invertebrate species are crucial for biodiversity and the eco system, and most of these beneficial species actually go unnoticed.
If invertebrates are important to the eco system,
then ultimately they matter to humans, because we depend
on a healthy environment for our own survival, good health and well-being.
Being a website about bees, obviously, pollination is going to be at the top of my list.
Bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, and a whole host of other important pollinating insects turn flowers into food in the form of fruits, nuts, berries and seeds for humans, birds, animals and also other invertebrates.
Some invertebrates help to clear and clean up the environment by eating away fungi and bacteria, or decaying and dead matter, including things which we would find unpleasant or unhygienic, from rotting animal carcasses and faeces to forest and garden leaf matter, turning it into compost which helps to nourish the soil.
Thus invertebrates help to keep the environment cleaner and tidier. The same is true of aquatic invertebrates (invertebrates found in water).
Some species of invertebrates are brilliant aerators of soil as well as creating it. In other words, invertebrates not only help us to grow food crops through pollination, they help create and maintain soil quality. This is important for growing in agriculture, as well as in gardens and allotments.
It’s worth noting that whilst a small minority of invertebrates are regarded as ‘pests’, many invertebrate species helpfully eat those ‘pests’ given half a chance.
Common wasp species are a definite favourite of mine, as well as lacewings, various beetles, ladybugs and so on, as they are brilliant helpers in the garden and our allotment.
The jewel wasp helps to control populations of pest cockroaches.
In doing all these things, invertebrates help to keep the eco-system in balance.
Then there is the rest of the food chain to think of in terms of “who eats what”.
Invertebrates feed on other invertebrates,
but they are also a vital source of food for birds, fish and animals. Some of these are in turn eaten by many
humans (unless of course, the person is a vegan or vegetarian).
I previously wrote a blog about beneficial insects. It seems to me we need to do much more in raising the profile of invertebrates, and changing perceptions.
If people realise that most invertebrates (okay, ‘creepy crawlies’ if you wish) are actually working on our behalf, they might think twice about squishing, poisoning, swatting etc.
And there are other solutions out there! For those who are afraid of insects, there are perfectly good eco-friendly and effective insect repellents, as well as natural bee and wasp repellents.
You can also do your bit by spreading the word about why invertebrates are important, sharing articles – and the images on this page on social media or text/email. You can also do your bit in your own garden, school, or local area.
So come on people, surely it's everyone's job to help? All the small differences we make, add up to one big difference over all.
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