The services that insects provide the United States are worth $57 billion, Cornell University entomologists calculated.
"Most insects tirelessly perform functions that improve our environment and lives in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand," said study co-author John Losey. "Don't let the insects' small stature fool you -- these minute marvels provide valuable services."
The study, published in the journal BioScience, found that native insects are food for wildlife -- supporting a $50 billion recreation industry. Insects also generate more than $4.5 billion in pest control, pollinate $3 billion in crops and clean up grazing lands -- saving ranchers some $380 million a year.
These are "very conservative" estimates that probably represent only a fraction of the true value of inspects, said Losey, an associate professor of entomology at Cornell.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
Explore further: Yes, AT&T, it pays to win back lost customers