Why You Should Welcome Insects Into Your Yard!

These critters are an essential part of the food chain.

May 25, 2021
Why You Should Welcome Insects Into Your Yard! | These critters are an essential part of the food chain.

Your backyard, front yard, or even your balcony, is your own little slice of the outdoors. Here, you can plant whatever you like and create a private utopia. As you choose how you want your outside space to look and feel, it is important to consider the other creatures that will be living there. This is because the flowers, grass, and trees you plant affect the wellbeing of native insects. 

Most people think of their outdoor area and picture freshly-cut green grass. A 2005 study by NASA estimated that lawns account for around 50,000 square miles of the United States. This is the same size as the state of Mississippi! Although it looks clean and uniform, grass is not beneficial for insects. It doesn’t allow insects a place to hide, like flowers or a meadow can. Additionally, wildflowers produce pollen and nectar which sustains insects such as native bees, butterflies, and ants. 

Ryan Gott, an entomologist in Pittsburgh, tells Yes Magazine that “As far as basic ecological functions go, a lawn does not have many. A lawn mainly extracts nutrition and water, usually receiving outside inputs of fertilizer and irrigation to stay alive, and returns very little to the system.” 

Consider portioning off a section of your lawn and turn this space into a mini meadow. The different flowers will attract various local insects, providing them with both refuge and food. If your yard is a bit shadier, you can create woodlands, perfect for insects that prefer this type of environment.

Additionally, you can switch out your white outdoor lights for bulbs that are more yellow or warm. The white light creates swarms of insects which makes them susceptible to predators and interrupts their breeding and feeding schedule.

With these small changes, you can assist in the survival of insects. This is key. A UN global report on biodiversity and ecosystem services found that five and a half million insect species are at risk of extinction. This is more than half of all plant and animal species that may become extinct. 

If insects were to disappear, this would negatively affect the entire food chain. According to The Washington Post, all of the flowers and plants that insects support would also be eliminated. The loss of this greenery would cause all animals to become extinct, eventually leading to the demise of the human race.

With the importance of insects in mind, consider the typical backyard. This outdoor area attracts thousands of insects. Almanac reports that only a tenth of these insects are actually destructive. In terms of the breakdown of different insects, there are three main categories.

The “pollinators” include bees, flies, moths, and butterflies. As the name suggests, these insects pollinate flowers. 

The next type of insect is a predator, which eats pests. These include praying mantises, green lacewing larvae, and ladybugs.

In addition to predators, parasitizers also eat other insects, and lay eggs on or in harmful bugs. An example of this type of insect is parasitic wasps. 

Who knew something so tiny like an insect could make such a large impact? Although typically overlooked, they provide a vital service for humankind. Without insects, the food chain will be altered, leading to an imbalance. As you plan out your ideal outdoor space, think of the insects that will also make this area home. With a bit of planning and some beautiful wildflowers, you can help contribute to their survival and allow them to thrive.

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Jackie Schindler teaches EFL to students between the ages of 5-15. She is passionate about making English relevant, fun and memorable. She always tries to look on the bright side in every situation. She is an avid reader, writer, traveler and always on the hunt for the best iced coffee.