Wilson: Insects essential to human life

July 1, 2007

Ant expert Edward O. Wilson, in Washington for National Pollinator Week, is warning extinctions in the insect world could threaten life as we know it.

Speaking at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Wilson said if humans vanished, only three species of insect would join them in extinction. Close relatives of body and head lice would continue to live on our primate cousins.

But mass insect extinction could mean no more nematodes and other worms moving soil around, and bees and other pollinators aiding plant reproduction. Agricultural yields would drop, bringing starvation, war and an "ecological dark age."

"The survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs," Wilson said.

Beekeepers in the United States already are confronting colony collapse disorder. In about 25 percent of the managed hives in the United States, worker bees are leaving and not coming back -- and no one knows why.

Wilson, a longtime Harvard professor, has won two Pulitzer prizes for his popular science writing.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Insect research gives humans six legs up

Related Stories

Insect research gives humans six legs up

June 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- You could say that Bert Hölldobler's career began during a childhood walk in the Bavarian woods with his father. The elder Holldobler turned over a rock out in the forest, exposing a colony of carpenter ...

Fountain of Youth to be found in the anthill?

November 20, 2008

Aging – we are all doing it. It is relentless and terminal. Auguries and alchemists, mendicants and magicians, philosophers and science fiction writers, researchers and plastic surgeons have employed all their various arts ...

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.