Insects, to many humans can be a nuisance, either with their bites, stings, touch on the skin or even just by appearance. The truth is though they form an important part of the food chain and they should never be disregarded as unimportant. Bites from gnats can cause skin irritation, from locusts they can cause disease such as malaria, while stings from bees, hornets and wasps can cause pain. When an insect bites, it releases saliva that can cause the skin around the bite to become red, swollen and itchy.
The venom from a sting often also causes a swollen, itchy, red mark (a weal) to form on the skin. This can be painful, but it’s harmless in most cases. The affected area will usually remain painful and itchy for a few days. The severity of bites and stings varies depending on the type of insect involved and the sensitivity of the person. In rare cases, some people can have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a bite or sting that requires immediate medical treatment.
Flies carry germs and are a nuisance when they land on the skin and as they grow bigger into bluebottles the appearance can cause a human to react in a derogatory way. Animals suffer sometimes as much as humans in this respect. Spiders on the other hand can cause fear and blind panic in some people causing some to scream other to run, although size can also make a difference.
“Insects” when talked of in the food chain is pretty generalized. Some insects can be herbivores (grasshoppers, for example), so they would be very near the bottom. But there are insects that are predators (praying mantis, ladybug), so they would be at least a step up, as would some wasps which lay their eggs on other insects for their larvae to parasitize. There are some predatory insects that are large enough that they are able to eat tadpoles, salamanders, and small fish.
So insects can fit in a number of places in a food chain, depending on the species. Example:
plant -> insect -. bird -> snake -> human
Plant -> insect -> bigger insect -> fish -> human
One eats the other and so on…..
Insects are part of the traditional diets of approximately 2 billion people worldwide. Insects can contribute to food security and be a part of the solution to protein shortages, given their high nutritional value, low emissions of greenhouse gases, low requirements for land and water, and the high efficiency at which they can convert feed into food. The majority of insects consumed in developing countries today are harvested in nature from wild populations. In Western countries, the disgust factor in considering insects as food, combined currently with their limited availability on the market, and a lack of regulations governing insects as food and feed, are major barriers for their further expansion.
However, the biggest opportunity may well lie in the production of insect biomass as feedstock for animals and fish, to partly replace the increasingly expensive protein ingredients of compound feeds in the livestock industries. Considering the immense quantities of insect biomass needed to replace current protein-rich ingredients such as meal from fish and soybeans, automated mass rearing facilities need to be developed. For this to occur, significant technological innovations, changes in consumer food preferences, insect-encompassing food and feed legislation, and progress towards more sustainable food production systems are needed.