Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Value Of Services Performed By Insects Tops $57 Billion In United States

Date:
April 1, 2006
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Think twice before you blithely swat, stomp, curse or ignore insects, says Cornell University entomologist John Losey, who co-authored a study that shows the dollar value of some of those insect services is more than $57 billion in the United States annually. The research appears in the journal BioScience today (April 1).

Think twice before you blithely swat, stomp, curse or ignore insects, says Cornell University entomologist John Losey, who co-authored a study that shows the dollar value of some of those insect services is more than $57 billion in the United States annually. The research appears in the journal BioScience today (April 1).

"Most insects tirelessly perform functions that improve our environment and lives in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand," Losey says. "Don't let the insects' small stature fool you - these minute marvels provide valuable services."

The study found that native insects are food for wildlife that supports a $50 billion recreation industry, provide more than $4.5 billion in pest control, pollinate $3 billion in crops and clean up grazing lands, which saves ranchers some $380 million a year.

And these are "very conservative" estimates that probably represent only a fraction of the true value, reports Losey, associate professor of entomology at Cornell.

This analysis of the economic value of these insect services is the first analysis of its type, said Losey, who co-authored the study with Mace Vaughan, Cornell M.S. '99, conservation director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Ore., which works to protect native insect habitats through education and research.

Insects are an integral part of a complex web of interactions that helps put food on our tables and remove our wastes. Humans - and probably most life on earth - would perish without insects, Vaughan said.

Losey and Vaughan's study focused on the economic value of four particular services -wildlife nutrition, pest control, pollination and dung burial - selected because robust data were available for an analysis.

"A lot of value is added to the economy by insects, but most people just don't realize it," said Losey. "When considering the allocation of conservation resources, or the management of natural habitat, we must think about this value to make sure that insects can continue to do their beneficial work.

"We know how to repair roads and other components of our physical infrastructure, but our biological infrastructure is vulnerable to degradation too," said Losey, an applied insect ecologist. "If we do not take care of it, it will break down and could seriously impact the economy."

"In fact in many places - crop pollination, for example - the cracks in the infrastructure are already showing," says Vaughn.

Using published data, Losey and Vaughan compared the values of each service at current levels of function to theoretical levels if these serves were absent. For wildlife nutrition, the researchers used census data on how much is spent annually on observing or hunting wildlife, and what proportion of the animals in those categories depend on insects for nutrition. For pest control, they looked at the amount of damage now incurred by pests, and, knowing that 65 percent of pests are controlled by other insects, calculated the losses if predators or parasites weren't going after their prey.

For pollination, they looked at the value of the crops known to be insect pollinated and subtracted the value of those pollinated by domesticated honeybees. For dung burial, they estimated the losses if dung beetles did not clean nearby plants and cattle environments, which would deter cattle from eating the plants and attract more flies and parasites that would have to be controlled. They also calculated how much fertilizer would be needed to compensate for the nitrogen not being returned to the soil so promptly by the beetles.

The analysis did not include such important insect services as decomposing carcasses, garbage and trees (thereby decreasing the likelihood of forest fires); producing honey, shellac, dyes and other products; being used in medicine or as a source of food for animals other than those used in hunting, fishing and birding; and providing a direct source of food for humans.

Based on their analysis, Losey and Vaughan call for greater investment in research on the ecological functions of insects so that the services they provide can be conserved or even enhanced.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Value Of Services Performed By Insects Tops $57 Billion In United States." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060401104604.htm>.
Cornell University. (2006, April 1). Value Of Services Performed By Insects Tops $57 Billion In United States. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060401104604.htm
Cornell University. "Value Of Services Performed By Insects Tops $57 Billion In United States." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060401104604.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins